For the first time since the Covid-19 epidemic and the first time the president, who frequently mentions his Irish heritage, has been in office, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will be hosted by President Joe Biden at the White House on Friday. This will mark the return of the St. Patrick’s Day tradition.
A presidential visit to Northern Ireland to commemorate the upcoming anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, which the United States assisted in brokering 25 years ago to put an end to decades of sectarian violence, is anticipated. The St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, which included a green-dyed White House fountain, are taking place just before that trip. Although the White House hasn’t made any official announcements, Biden stated earlier this week that he wants to attend the visit.
The president referred to the visit as “a big day” during a private discussion with the Taoiseach, or Irish prime minister, in the Oval Office.
According to Biden, Ireland and the United States have a long history of friendship and shared traditions.
The president expressed his support for the Windsor Framework and mentioned that they will talk about it when they next met. Also, he complimented Varadkar for their collaboration on the Ukraine conflict and economic challenges.
The Friends of Ireland Caucus St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon was held on Capitol Hill later on Friday afternoon. Biden used the occasion to wax poetic about his family’s links to Ireland and look for common ground with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
“I agree with the speaker. There’s no reason why we can’t find common ground,” the president said at the luncheon. “There’s no reason why we can’t hope to change this direction of extremes (in) both parties are pushing … I think it’s really important and that is the power of friendship. I think it’s a power of strength of our partnership if we work at it, and simply put, I think it’s the Irish of it.”
Varadkar will once more be hosted by the White House on Friday night for a Shamrock presentation and reception, which will also feature a performance by former One Direction member Niall Horan.
Varadkar was welcomed by Vice President Kamala Harris at the Naval Observatory on Friday.
On St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish Taoiseach has generally had a standing invitation to the White House.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Biden and former Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin had a virtual St. Patrick’s Day celebration in 2021. Moreover, Martin tested positive for Covid-19 the year before while attending a Washington dinner where Biden gave a speech the evening before the White House’s planned St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
A presidential trip to Northern Ireland to commemorate the historic Good Friday Agreement’s 25th anniversary has long been rumoured. Barack Obama travelled to Belfast as the last US president in 2013.
Biden made no mention of his forthcoming trip at the two-day meeting on Friday. Varadkar had earlier stated that the two leaders will be talking about the itinerary, and Biden replied, “I look forward to that as well.”
For Biden, a trip to Ireland will be a metaphorical coming home for a president who constantly alludes to his Irish heritage and occasionally quotes poetry by William Butler Yeats or Seamus Heaney in his talks.