Irish politicians to mark Obama's roots


UNITED STATES:MINISTERS MARY Hanafin and Noel Dempsey and opposition leaders Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore are among the Irish political figures expected to join counterparts from Kenya next week to celebrate Barack Obama's roots in both countries at a lunch during the Democratic convention in Denver.

Mr Obama's father came to the United States from Kenya but his mother's family traces its ancestry to Moneygall, Co Offaly.

Stella O'Leary, president of Irish-American Democrats, who is hosting the lunch, said Mr Obama's shared ancestry in Ireland and Kenya was part of the "great American story" his candidacy represents.

"It's a great, interesting story and his Irish ancestry is not widely known in America. This is a chance to tell that story to Irish-Americans and to highlight the close bonds between Ireland and Africa," she said.

Kenya's deputy prime minister, Uhuru Kenyatta, water minister Charity Ngilu and the country's ambassador to the US Peter Ogego, are expected to attend the lunch. Other Irish invited include former president Mary Robinson, former taoiseach and EU ambassador to Washington John Bruton, and Irish ambassador to Washington Michael Collins.