Friday 19 January 2018

Global praise for Enda Kenny after his inspiring immigration speech

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaks during the Friends of Ireland Luncheon at the U.S Capitol in Washington, DC. Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images
Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaks during the Friends of Ireland Luncheon at the U.S Capitol in Washington, DC. Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

The Taoiseach's speech on immigration has received global recognition for 'lecturing' US President Trump on immigration.

The Taoiseach used the St Patrick's day visit to speak about the contribution of the Irish community in the United States, leading to the New York Times calling it a “lecture” for the US President on immigration.

Speaking at a party in East Room of the White House, he thanked Mr Trump for “giving so much of his time” to help celebrate St Patrick’s legacy as “the patron of immigrants”. 

He appealed to the President to take a more favourable view of immigrants - but made no mention of Mr Trump’s controversial travel ban on six predominantly Muslim countries.

The New York Times praised the Taoiseach
The New York Times praised the Taoiseach

“Ireland came to America, because deprived of liberty, opportunity, safety and even food itself, we believed.

“Four decades before Lady Liberty lifted her lamp we were the wretched refuse on the teeming shore,” Mr Kenny said.

Fox News said the Taoiseach 'pushed trump' on illegal Irish immigrants
Fox News said the Taoiseach 'pushed trump' on illegal Irish immigrants

“We believed in the shelter of America, in the compassion of America, in the opportunity of America. We came and became Americans.

“We lived the words of JFK long before he uttered them – we asked not what America could do for us but what we could do for America. And we still do.

“We want to give and not to take,” he told a room full of invited guests.

US media in particular were quick to praise the Taoiseach with the The New York Times saying: “Irish Premier uses St Patrick’s Day Ritual to Lecture Trump on Immigration”.

The article reads: "Mr. Trump found himself in a roomful of kelly-green-clad lawmakers in the Capitol for the Friends of Ireland luncheon, being lectured by Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister, or taoiseach (pronounced THEE-shakh), about the virtues of America’s immigrant legacy and the contributions that immigrants had made to the country."

The Boston Globe also ran an article under the headline: “Ireland’s leader pushes Trump to help Irish living in US illegally.”

Fox News praised the Taoiseach with the headline: "Ireland's leader pushes Trump on illegal Irish immigrants."

The article reads: "Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is urging President Donald Trump to help Irish people living in the U.S. illegally, saying they just want to "make America great."

Fox News also praised the Taoiseach's humour saying: "Speaking after Trump at the luncheon, Kenny showed off his country's famed wit, saying that he "just saw the president of the United States read from his script."

Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams, said Enda Kenny was "on the button" when he appealed to President Donald Trump to support the Irish undocumented.

The republican, who was a guest at Speaker Paul Ryan's St Patrick's lunch along with Mr Kenny and Mr Trump, said the challenge was to turn words into action.

"The Taoiseach's remarks were on the button," he said.

"We now need to build upon that.

"The St Patrick's festival here in the US is a great period of celebration of Irishness and it's very important."

Businessman and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg praised Mr Kenny for urging Donald Trump to help the US's undocumented immigrants.

"It was great to see him raise the issue of undocumented immigrants when he was at the White House yesterday - thank you for that," he said.

"This is a country that has benefited from immigrants. Without immigrants we wouldn't have a country and immigrants from Ireland have played a very important part and a number of different waves of Irish immigrants coming here and really contributing to our society.

"They contribute to our cuisine and to our culture, to our economy and to our wellbeing and happiness, and I think it's fair to say without the Irish, New York City would not be anything as great as it is today.

"America became a global powerhouse because we welcomed immigrants and to remain a global powerhouse we really do in this country have to continue to welcome immigrants and give them a chance to play their part in our country's future.

"And that's really what celebrating St Patrick's Day is all about."

Mr Kenny told the event he hoped progress could be made on the issue with the new US administration.

With reporting from Press Association

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