President Joe Biden hosted Taoiseach Micheál Martin of Ireland for a virtual bilateral meeting on Wednesday to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and spoke about his own family’s Irish roots.
“Everything between Ireland and the United States runs deep, Taoiseach, our joys, our sorrows, our passion, our drive and our unrelenting optimism and hope,” Biden said in the Oval Office.
Biden thanked the Taoiseach, or prime minister, for the shamrock bowl that was sent over from Ireland to the White House. During the meeting it was placed between Biden and the screen showing the Taoiseach.
“Good to have you on television, but next year in Washington,” Biden said.
He recounted the years he had hosted St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at the White House as vice president. Biden also spoke about his family’s Irish roots and said the US has “great affection” for Ireland.
The President talked about the shared priorities of the two countries, including combating the Covid-19 pandemic, strengthening global health security and maintaining the political and economic stability of Northern Ireland.
Biden said the White House would be lit up on Wednesday night in green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
The Irish Taoiseach typically has had a standing invitation to the White House on St. Patrick’s Day. The event was moved to a virtual format after the coronavirus pandemic halted much international travel and changed the way people gather for celebrations and holidays.
“This year, as Ireland takes a seat on the United Nations Security Council, we will redouble our joint work on peacekeeping, conflict resolution, accountability mechanisms, and women’s rights. Ireland and the United States will also work together to strengthen the United States-European Union partnership,” according to the White House.
Biden attended a mass on Wednesday morning in honor of St. Patrick’s Day in Wilmington, Delaware, the White House says.
The President often speaks about how growing up he practiced in the mirror for hours on end reciting poetry written by Irish poets like William Butler Yeats in order to manage his stutter.
Vice President Kamala Harris also met with Martin virtually on Wednesday morning in place of the breakfast that has typically been hosted by the vice president on St. Patrick’s Day.
Harris will later meet virtually with Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, according to the White House.
“President Biden will be dropping by that meeting to reinforce US support for the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, as well as peace and stability in Northern Ireland,” a senior administration official said.
Last year, St. Patrick’s Day coincided with the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown. The Trump White House canceled the reception that was meant to celebrate the holiday and the visit of Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s Taoiseach at the time.