Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny rejected comments made by Australian Prime minister Tony Abbott that St. Patrick’s Day is a drunken holiday.
In his St. Patrick’s Day address, Abbott apologized for being unable to share a pint of Guinness or two with Irish business leaders to mark Ireland’s worldwide celebration in honoring our patron saint.
Wearing a green tie, the Australian PM continues to talk about drinking, singing and the Irish building Australia. His comments were met with anger at the lack of awareness Abbott shows to Irish-Australian success stories, what some feel was the patronising way in which he spoke about the Irish and for presuming that March 17 is centred around alcohol, a presumption that some don’t wish to be shared further.
Kenny, who is currently in the U.S. as part of his St. Patrick’s Day tour, told reporters that he was unhappy with Abbott’s remarks. He accuses Abbott of perpetuating Irish stereotypes stating “I’ve heard the Prime Minister’s comments. He made them. I don’t agree with that.”
He further rejected the comments saying “There has been a long-term view of a stage Irish perception” and that it was “perfectly in order for so many Irish people in Australia to have an enjoyable celebration of St Patrick’s Day and St Patrick’s week, and to do so in a thoroughly responsible fashion.”
“I think it’s really important that we understand that we have a national day that can be celebrated worldwide, St Patrick’s Day."
The rejection of Abbott’s stereotype of the Irish living abroad comes as Kenny is set to meet with President Obama during his time in the U.S. on St. Patrick’s Day duties. Kenny hopes to discuss issues close to Irish citizens such as immigration reform and human rights during this meeting.
Abbott’s full comments can be seen in the video below.