Sunday 17 November 2019

Kenny invites 40 million Americans to 'come home'

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny used the visit of President Barack Obama to urge Irish-Americans to spend their tourist dollars here.

And he capitalised on the opportunity to rally the hopes of the nation, telling the crowd of 40,000 in College Green, Dublin, that there would be a "brighter and more prosperous future".

In an eight-minute warm-up speech, Mr Kenny was quick to seize on the symbolism surrounding the return of Mr Obama to his "Irish roots".

"When Falmouth Kearney started out on his long Atlantic crossing, he might have dreamed but hardly imagined that one day his great-great-grandson would return as a president of the United States," he said.

And Mr Kenny specifically referred to the 40 million Irish Americans who the Government hopes can help boost falling tourist numbers here. "Whether you're Irish by blood, or by marriage or by desire, we, your Irish family, are right here to welcome you. To follow your president home," he said.

Mr Kenny initially struggled to make himself heard above the cheers of the enormous crowd -- the largest live audience of his 36-year career in politics. He told the Irish people specifically they had a "unique wealth" inside them that could not be accumulated in banks.

He then went on to shower praise on Mr Obama and his wife Michelle, who he described as an extraordinary couple. He said that Mr Obama was different to John F Kennedy, who had stolen our hearts in 1963, and Bill Clinton, who had restored our spirits in 1995.

"Because he doesn't just speak about the American dream, he is the American dream," he shouted.

Irish Independent Supplement

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