Wednesday 22 November 2017

Obama plans return to Ireland but can’t say when

Fionnan Sheahan in The White House

US President Barack Obama is promising to come back to Ireland for a visit.

But it appears unlikely, for the moment, that he will drop in while at the G8 summit in Co Fermanagh later this year.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said today his schedule was "complicated" but he did extend an invite for the President to visit whenever is "appropriate and convenient".

"And I can say to you that he has reaffirmed that it is his intention to come back to Ireland. He enjoyed his last visit very much indeed," he said.


Earlier, President Obama described the Taoiseach as a great leader.


Mr Obama said the Irish economy was on the road to recovery and praised Mr Kenny for his work during the difficult times.


In turn, the Taoiseach hoped the lure of Ireland's famous golf courses would tempt the president to make a second visit to his ancestral home.


"There is a standing, open invitation to President Obama to come back to Ireland whenever is convenient and appropriate, and when he so wishes," Mr Kenny said, during his annual St Patrick's Day visit to Washington DC.


"And maybe the next time when our economies are moving in a more positive direction, we might actually have time to take out the sticks on the golf course. I'm looking forward to that some time in the future."


Mr Obama travelled to Ireland in May 2011. His trip included a visit to the birthplace of his ancestors in Moneygall, Co Offaly.


Today, he and Mr Kenny held bi-lateral talks in the Oval Office, where EU-US trade talks were high on the agenda. Ireland is almost half-way through its six-month term as president of the European Union.


Mr Kenny was later due to present President Obama with a bowl of shamrock at the White House St Patrick's Day reception.


The president added that the US stood to gain from Ireland's economic recovery.


"The Taoiseach has shown great leadership during the difficult times in Ireland and we're seeing progress in the Irish economy," Mr Obama said.


"That's good for the US economy because we have a lot of trade, a lot of investment in Ireland. There was a story this morning about a deal between Ryanair and Boeing in which we'll be selling a lot of airplanes to Ireland.


"It's an example of how the progress that is made in Ireland benefits jobs and businesses here in the US."


The Taoiseach spent the weekend in New York for its annual St Patrick's Day parade.


He travelled to Washington for his meetings with the president and is due to visit the west Coast later in the week.




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