Taoiseach lays flowers in memory of Boston marathon blast victims

Enda Kenny says dignity and strength shown following the bombings would ‘deal with the physical and emotional debris of the terror’


Taoiseach Enda Kenny laid flowers at the Copley Square memorial to the Boston marathon blast victims today.

In a speech last night to celebrate the 50th anniversary of President John F Kennedy’s visit to Ireland, Mr Kenny praised the courage and strength of Bostonians following last month’s bombings.

Speaking at the John F Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Mr Kenny said the dignity and strength shown following the bombings would “deal with the physical and emotional debris of the terror.”

There would be bigger crowds participating in next year’s marathon and the year after to “show people that not only is Boston strong but others from around the world want to build on that strength,” he said.

The dinner was the Taoiseach’s first public engagement after arriving in the United States yesterday on a three-day trip to Boston where he will speak at Boston College’s commencement ceremony tomorrow.

The trip has drawn controversy after Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, said he would boycott the ceremony because the Taoiseach is due to speak at the event where he will receive an honorary degree.

Boston’s archbishop traditionally delivers the final benediction at Boston College’s annual commencement but Cardinal O’Malley has refused to attend, saying that Mr Kenny is “aggressively promoting abortion legislation,” referring to the Government’s proposed Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013.

The Cardinal’s boycott was alluded to in passing last night during a speech made by former Massachusetts senator Paul Kirk who introduced the Taoiseach.

Mr Kenny had “courageously used his bully pulpit to speak the unvarnished but necessary and inconvenient truth to the highest institutions of religious power on the fundamental issues of honesty, transparency, accountability and social justice,” said Mr Kirk, to applause from the Boston crowd.

At last night’s ceremony Mr Kenny received a framed copy of President Kennedy’s handwritten note of the poem River Shannon, which the president read before his departure from Shannon on his famous visit to Ireland in June 1963.

Mr Kennedy took note of the poem when President de Valera’s wife Sinead recited it to him at a dinner the previous evening. After reading the poem at Shannon, President Kennedy promised to return to Ireland the following spring. He was assassinated in Dallas in November 1963.

Last night’s event was attended by Vicki Kennedy, the widow of the late senator Teddy Kennedy, President Kennedy’s brother; Irish Ambassador to the US Michael Collins; US congresswoman Niki Tsongas; Massachusetts House of Representatives member Linda Dorcena Forry; and secretary of state of the commonwealth of Massachusetts William Galvin.

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