US President Joe Biden described Ireland's relationship with the United States as a "partnership for the ages" in a historic address to the Oireachtas (Irish parliament) on Thursday evening, April 13.
Biden, who is only the fourth US President to address the Oireachtas, discussed a wide range of issues during the address, including the Good Friday Agreement, his Irish ancestry, and climate change.
Speaking about the Good Friday Agreement, Biden said: "We must never forget that peace, even as has become a lived reality for an entire generation of young people, peace is precious.
"It still needs its champions. It still needs to be nurtured."
He did note, however, that US companies are "cautious" to come and invest in Northern Ireland "because the institutions are not in place."
He said how he and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar discussed "how Ireland and the United States can work together with the United Kingdom and the European Union to support the people of Northern Ireland.
"I think that the United Kingdom should be working closer with Ireland in this effort, in this endeavor."
Discussing Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Biden paid tribute to Ireland for the aid that it has sent to Ukraine since the outbreak of the conflict.
"Today, Ireland and the United States are standing together to oppose Russia’s brutal aggression and support the brave people of Ukraine," Biden said, drawing a huge round of applause from those gathered in Leinster House.
"You don't forget. You have memories that go deep," he added, discussing the non-lethal aid that Ireland has sent to Ukraine over the past year.
He added: "Ireland has always been a voice for liberty, global cooperation, and equality of all mankind."
US President Joe Biden addressed a Joint Sitting of the Houses of the Oireachtas today and was joined by Members of Dáil and Seanad Éireann and invited guests. #SeeForYourself @POTUS
Gallery - https://t.co/eBnpSGuDTL pic.twitter.com/m1iZFSA32x— Houses of the Oireachtas - Tithe an Oireachtais (@OireachtasNews) April 13, 2023
Biden's Irish heritage was central to his address.
Taking a stab at the Irish language, Biden told the Oireachtas at the start of his address, "Tá mé seo abhaile. I'm at home."
In a more lighthearted moment, the President referenced the viral "Black and Tans" gaffe he made the day prior while speaking in Dundalk, Co Louth: "I always have a little bit of Ireland close by, even when I’m in Washington.
"In the Oval Office, I have the rugby ball signed by the Irish rugby team — the ball the team played when they beat the All Blacks in Dublin in 2021." This remark was met with laughter and applause.
He discussed the heartache that his ancestors must have felt when they were forced to leave Ireland during the Famine and said the US has been "shaped by Ireland."
"And the values we share remain, to this day, the core of our historic partnership between our people and our governments," he added.
Noting that his address in the Houses of the Oireachtas was "one of the great honors" of his career, Biden acknowledged that his "greatest regret" was that his mom was not there to witness it.
Irish hearts helped to kindle the torch of liberty in my country and fire our revolutionary spirit.
Irish blood from across this island was willingly given for my country’s Independence.
And Irish hands laid the foundations for a new kind of future – one built on freedom.— President Biden (@POTUS) April 13, 2023
Biden referenced how in 1963, President John F. Kennedy paid tribute to the more than 150,000 Irish immigrants who joined the Army of the North during America’s Civil War.
"President Kennedy honored their courage and sacrifice by presenting to this body the flag of the Irish Brigade, which hangs out here to this very day," Biden said.
He continued: "President Kennedy said 60 years ago, and I quote, 'Ireland pursues an independent course in foreign policy, but it is not neutral between liberty and tyranny, and it never will be,'" which again was met with applause.
The stories of Irish immigrants are the very heart of what binds Ireland and America together. pic.twitter.com/Qqj8K4ZTMR— President Biden (@POTUS) April 13, 2023
Turning to climate change, Biden said there wasn't much time to act "and that's a fact."
He said Ireland was a "hotbed of cutting-edge science, research, and emerging technologies that’s going to influence so much of our shared future."
He added: "In this moment, the world needs Ireland, and the United States, and our limitless imaginations."
Biden also praised the "enduring" strength of Irish-US relations and promised a future of "unlimited shared possibilities."
He also said the US will be Ireland's "closest and most dependable partner" and its "most enthusiastic supporter" as it builds for the future.
"We have always been," Biden said. "And we're going to continue to grow our enormous economic relationship as a foundation for both our nation's prosperity."
Biden additionally referenced his age during the lengthy address, stating that he is at the end of his career, "not the beginning."
He noted that he was the oldest president in history to take office and said he wasn't sure if that was a good or a bad thing but that it meant he had no excuses because of his experience, drawing laughter from those gathered.
He also delivered a customary Seamus Heaney quote on what would have been the poet's 84th birthday, quoting from "The Cure at Troy," which is Biden's favorite poem.
Biden also shared an emotional exchange with Heaney's widow Marie, who watched on from the gallery. Biden thanked her for sending him an autographed copy of one of Heaney's books and said Ireland had the best poets in the world.
Biden received a rousing standing ovation both when he entered the Oireachtas and at the conclusion of his speech.
On Friday, the US President will conclude his Irish visit with a public address in Ballina, Co Mayo.