Waterford man Maurice Barron, who, along with his wife Kandice, was a guest of First Lady Jill Biden at the State of the Union address this week, revealed that he urged US president Joe Biden to visit Waterford when he next visits Ireland.
Mr Barron told RTÉ Radio’s Ryan Tubridy show that when they met the President after the address, the Mr Biden told him “I’m planning to go home soon”.
“I officially invited him to Waterford and he said we’ll definitely do that,” he said. Mr Barron said his uncle is the current mayor of Waterford and his father is a former mayor.
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The US ambassador to Ireland, Claire Cronin, last year said she had “no doubt” the president would visit Ireland in 2023. His last visit to the country of his ancestry came in 2016, when he was vice-president to Barack Obama.
The Barron family were also guests at a reception in the White House before the State of the Union address. Their daughter Ava, who has overcome cancer to become “a rambunctious toddler”, was referenced by the President in his speech.
While the couple were at the address Ava stayed at the White House with her aunt in the movie room. Mr Barron joked that they thought she would be safe there with the Secret Service. Their daughter was the first official guest to enter the reception and was the centre of attention, he said.
Mr Barron added that the President was late to the State of the Union address because he stopped off to meet Ava in the movie room, a fact the family did not know until they were told so by the president. The Barrons travelled to the State of the Union address in the First Lady’s motorcade with Bono, whom they found warm and engaging.
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The other guests included the parents of Tyre Nichols, who died after being assaulted by five police officers on January 7th, and the Ukrainian ambassador to the US. The event was an extraordinary experience, said Mr Barron. Afterwards, when the couple were introduced to the President as cancer advocates, the President said “Ava’s parents” and told them of his encounter with the toddler.
“It was an extraordinary moment, we had no clue that she had met him before we did. It was amazing that he took the time to go to the movie room to meet Ava.”
Mr Barron said he hoped President Biden would make a trip to Waterford. “That would be a huge thing.”