Meeting US vice president a ‘privilege’, Taoiseach says

Enda Kenny says Pence and Trump will have help from Ireland, EU in dealing with challenges

US vice president Mike Pence  listens while Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaks during a St Patrick’s Day breakfast at the Naval Observatory. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

US vice president Mike Pence listens while Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaks during a St Patrick’s Day breakfast at the Naval Observatory. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has described his meeting at the residence of US vice president Mike Pence as a “privilege,”as he pledged to continue the close relationship between Ireland and America under the new administration.

Speaking alongside the vice president at his official residence on Thursday morning. Mr Kenny said: “It’s a privilege, vice-president, Karen, and your wonderful family, to be here in the naval observatory, to continue this wonderful connection between Ireland and the United States. ”

Powerful political seats

“I want to wish you the vice president and all the administration every success and good luck in dealing with the many international and global challenges that you face,” the Taoiseach said. “Both you and President Trump now occupy the two most powerful political seats in the world. You have within your responsibility the opportunity to deal with many of those. Not easy, but you’re going to get help. You’re going to get it from Ireland and you’re going to get help from the European Union. Ireland and the European Union will never be but a friend to the United States.”

Describing how he could see Croagh Patrick from the window of the house where he grew up in Co Mayo, the Taoiseach said that St Patrick had preached the message of “courage, love, of heart and peace, of passion and inclusion.” “May St Patrick bless all of you,”he said.

Deeply humbling

Mr Pence welcomed guests with the phrase “top of the morning”. He said that Thursday’s St Patrick’s Day events were “deeply humbling” recalling the experience of “32 million who came and contributed incalculable ways to the prosperity and strength of the United States.” This included his grandfather Richard Cawley who arrived at Ellis Island in 1923 who brought the “Irish characteristics of faith, good humour, a sturdy work ethic and love of family,” he said.

“Under President Trump’s leadership, the ties between our countries will only grow,” Mr Pence said. “They are ties of the heart, they are ties of commerce, they are ties of shared values… The best days for Ireland and America are yet to come.”

Reverend John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame University, delivered the blessing before the guests began a breakfast of omelette, with gruyere, spinach, roasted tomatoes, and apple-wood smoked bacon, country potatoes and fresh fruit .

Among the attendees at the small gathering were Congressman Peter King, Congressman Tom Rooney and former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, Irish ambassador to the US Anne Anderson and Mr Pence’s two sisters, wife and daughter.

The breakfast at the vice president’s residence is the first of a series of St Patrick’s Day engagements on Thursday.

US president Donald Trump will make one of his few official visits to Congress on Thursday when he attends the annual St Patrick’s Day Speaker’s lunch on Capitol Hill, where he is expected to address attendees.

Mr Kenny will also hold a bilateral meeting in the White House on Thursday before returning to the President’s official residence in the afternoon for the annual shamrock ceremony.