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Micheál and Biden are keen to cement Irish-US friendship

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U.S. President Joe Biden

U.S. President Joe Biden

U.S. President Joe Biden

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said Covid-19 may have an impact on the traditional St Patrick's Day visit to the White House by members of the Government.

He revealed that president Joe Biden spoke "emotionally" of his Irish heritage when the leaders chatted recently and that they are "keen to cement the very historic relationship" between the US and Ireland.

Mr Martin said US and Irish officials will engage on the issue of the traditional St Patrick's Day visit to the White House by the Taois- each and will do what is "best and most safe, obviously. Covid may very well have an impact on that".

Jokingly

"There will be no decisions made in relation to that yet," the Toaiseach said.

"I did invite President Biden to Ireland and, rather jokingly, he said to me, 'Try and keep me out'

"In relation to St Patrick's Day, that is an honoured tradition in the relationship between Ireland and the United States."

Mr Martin added that both leaders are keen to cement the historic relationship between the two countries.

"It is an important relationship in the modern era," he said.

"It has cultural and artistic manifestations, and it has economic manifestations too."

Last year during his visit to Washington DC, then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar made an announcement to the nation that all schools and colleges would close in mid-March in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

Mr Varadkar's state visit was cut short due to the worsening situation at home and the traditional passing of the bowl of shamrock did not go ahead.

Mr Martin told CNN's Christiane Amanpour last night of the "genuine warmth" felt by the Irish people towards Mr Biden.

"It's a source of great pride that the great-grandson of Irish emigrants has become president of the United States. There was elation at his elevation this week," he said.

"He spoke to me in the aftermath of his election almost emotionally about his heritage and the lessons and values of an Irish family in Scranton."

President Biden also told the Taoiseach of his "great fondness" for Mayo and Louth, the counties from where his ancestors emigrated to the US in the 19th century.


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