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Tuesday 15 October 2019

Taoiseach honoured at JFK library

Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been making the most of his brief visit to Boston.

Accompanied by his wife Fionnuala for the three day trip to the capital of Irish America, last night, he was honoured by his political hero, John F. Kennedy's library and museum.

Mr Kenny and his wife were guests of honour At the JFK Library's 50th anniversary commemoration of his historic visit to Ireland in 1963.

A select group of guests, including Senator Ted Kennedy's widow, Vicki, Massachusetts Senator Paul Kirk and his wife Gail, as well as dozens of prominent politicians from the area and high profile Irish business people, were treated to a three course dinner, a compilation video of JFK's visit to Ireland and a nearly 20 minute speech from Mr Kenny.

Mr Kenny described his visit as "probably the most joyful experience of his Presidency", and welcomed Caroline Kennedy and other members of the family when they visit Ireland later this year, celebration of the 50th anniversary.

"I want you to understand that it's a real privilege to be able to stand at this podium, in this building, in this city, and listen to these words again; with their clarity, truth and poignancy, which still reaches out to millions of people in various ways around the world."

Today, Mr Kenny laid flowers at the temporary memorial bombing site at Boston's Copley Square, after enjoying a local mass. This evening, he attended a special dinner celebrating all of the Honorary Doctorate recipients at Boston College, where he will be giving the commencement speech to the graduating class of 2013.

To speak at the commencement address is an extraordinary privilege," he said. "This is the 150th anniversary of Boston College. President Kennedy, as a Senator, gave the commencement address 50 years ago."

Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley publicly boycotted the ceremony due to the Taoiseach's views on abortion. And while Mr Kenny would not comment directly on Cardinal O'Malley's decision, he said: "Boston College issued these invitations and people are entitled to accept or not to accept.

"I think the focus here should be on those who are graduating...the importance of leadership and the traditional connections between the United States and Ireland. I regard it as a unique privilege to be asked to give the address."

He will depart Boston tomorrow afternoon, following his speech.

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