Taoiseach starts St Patrick’s Day visit to the US

Kenny will meet Obama tomorrow for Oval Office meeting and shamrock ceremony

Taoiseach Enda Kenny starts his annual St Patrick’s Day visit to the United States today during which he will meet US president Barack Obama at the White House tomorrow morning. Photograph: Alan Betson /The Irish Times

Taoiseach Enda Kenny starts his annual St Patrick’s Day visit to the United States today during which he will meet US president Barack Obama at the White House tomorrow morning. Photograph: Alan Betson /The Irish Times

Thu, Mar 13, 2014, 07:09

Taoiseach Enda Kenny starts his annual St Patrick’s Day visit to the United States today during which he will meet US president Barack Obama at the White House tomorrow morning.

Mr Kenny flew into the US yesterday for a series of political and business engagements during his six-day visit to Washington, Boston and New York where he will promote investment and jobs, and make the case for immigration reform in the US.

The Taoiseach and the US president will meet in the Oval Office tomorrow after Mr Kenny is hosted by vice president Joe Biden for his traditional St Patrick’s Day breakfast at his Washington residence.

Following the meeting with the Oval Office meeting with Mr Obama, the Taoiseach will attend a lunch at the US Capitol hosted by the Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner on one of the few occasions in the Washington political calendar when the US president travels to Capitol Hill.

Mr Kenny will present a bowl of shamrock to the US President, a tradition dating back six decades to when Harry Truman was president, in an early evening reception hosted by Mr Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House marking the sixth St Patrick’s Day of his presidency.

“The United States and Ireland share a strong bilateral relationship; deep cultural, historic and people-to-people bonds, and a shared commitment to advancing peace, security and prosperity in the world,” the White House press secretary said in a statement on Mr Kenny’s visit.

Mr Biden will also meet Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness tomorrow “to discuss progress toward building a peaceful and prosperous future for the people of Northern Ireland.”

The Government has said that the Taoiseach will on his visit highlight “the very significant progress made towards Ireland’s economic recovery over the past year.”

“He will emphasise Ireland’s strengths as a location for foreign direct investment and overseas visitors, and promote Irish companies as a source of high quality products and services,” the Government said in a press statement.

Mr Kenny will start a busy schedule of events today marking the St Patrick’s Day celebrations on the US east coast by presenting the inaugural Science Foundation Ireland St Patrick’s Day medal to a distinguished Irish scientist living and working in the US at a reception in Washington.

The Taoiseach will then host a lunch promoting Ireland as a destination for investment.

This evening Mr Kenny will be the keynote speaker at the annual gala of philanthropic organisation, the American Ireland Fund, in Washingto where Mr Biden will be honoured along with Robert McCann, the head of the American operations of Swiss investment bank UBS.

On Sunday Mr Kenny will be in Boston where he will meet the recently elected mayor Marty Walsh, the son of Co Galway immigrants.

Massachusetts state senator Linda Dorcena Forry will host a breakfast for the Taoiseach that morning and later he will visit the New England Irish Cultural Centre.

He will meet business groups at a reception at the Irish consulate general on Boylston Street later that afternoon and is scheduled to visit the USS Constitution museum in the late afternoon.

The Taoiseach will travel on to New York City where on Monday he will attend a breakfast hosted by the city’s mayor Bill de Blasio, who is also recently elected, at his official residence Gracie Mansion.

Mr Kenny will attend mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan celebrated by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, followed by an Irish Chamber of Commerce USA breakfast and the St Patrick’s Day Parade along Fifth Avenue.

The American Irish Historical Society will host a reception for the Taoiseach on Monday afternoon. Mr Kenny will end the trip with business engagements on Tuesday morning before returning to Dublin.