Like many things over the past year, the traditional meeting between Ireland’s Taoiseach and the President of America on St. Patrick’s day could not take place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the typical three day event took place virtually, with positive outcomes reported.
On Monday the 15th, Taoiseach Micheal Martin and President Joe Biden met virtually, to discuss managing relations on and off of Ireland post-Brexit. Later that evening, Martin spoke at the US launch of ‘From Whence I Came: The Kennedy Legacy, Ireland & America’ along with other high-figure guests including Samantha Power, former US ambassador to the UN.
The following day saw the Taoiseach attend a multitude of meetings as well as giving a speech at an online event hosted by the Congressional Friends of Ireland Caucus. The event was to commemorate John Hume, who played a pivotal role in garnering US support for the peace process, after the troubles in Northern Ireland.
On the 17th, for Joe Biden’s first St. Patrick’s day as President of the United States, the Taoiseach held a lengthy hour and 20 minute virtual meeting with him. During that time they talked about Brexit, the Good Friday Agreement, Covid-19, economic recovery, climate change and immigration reform.
There were plenty of mentions of Biden’s Irish ancestry, with the President referencing the two countries working together on cancer research, through the renewal of an Ireland/Northern Ireland/US cancer consortium. Biden stated he was committed to looking after health issues across Ireland and the US and he mentioned his relatives in Mayo, who dedicated a cancer hospice facility to his son Beau, who died of the illness.
“Everything between Ireland and the United States runs deep, our joys, our sorrows, our passion, our drive, our unrelenting optimism and hope,” Biden said.
The Taoiseach also thanked the president for his “unwavering support” for the Good Friday agreement, which has proved important in Brexit negotiations.
Despite the disappointment over the typical celebrations in the White House being unable to take place, the meeting was one of hope and positivity with Martin extending his best wishes to Biden for his four years in office.
He also made reference to the shamrock bowl that had been placed on the table in front of the president, “For now the shamrock bowl in front of you… has green shoots that point to a brighter future ahead”.
Writer: Jessica Woodlock