Irish-US links and the political impasse in Northern Ireland were among the subjects discussed in meetings between the speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner and Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
The two men met at Farmleigh House in the Phoenix Park on Thursday for talks about US-Ireland links. They discussed the Irish economic recovery, immigration reform including the plight of the undocumented Irish in the US, and the situation in the North.
Mr Boehner was accompanied by seven members of Congress. The delegation was on the fourth leg of a visit to Europe following visits to Finland, Lithuania and Poland.
As well as meeting the Taoiseach they also met a number of Ministers including Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan and later on a visit to Leinster House they met Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Flanagan said there had been a very useful exchange on Irish-US links and foreign policy issues.
“The meeting gave both sides an opportunity to discuss issues of common concern in international relations such as the situation in Ukraine, Ireland’s 2016 commemorations and current developments in the EU,” said Mr Flanagan.
He said he had also taken the opportunity to brief the delegation on developments in Northern Ireland given the crucial role the US continues to play in the peace process.
“Regarding US immigration reform, I reiterated Ireland’s concerns regarding the situation of the Irish undocumented in the US and urged progress on legislative immigration reform,” said Mr Flanagan.
He said that the Irish Government would continue to work closely with the Speaker as part of its active engagement with friends of Ireland on both sides of the aisle in Congress.
“Visits by high-level Congressional delegations such as this are a powerful demonstration of the strong and enduring links between Ireland and America,” he said.
Mr Flanagan also said that Ireland had worked successfully with the US on many areas in the international field.
“Our economic relationship has never been stronger, with trade in goods and services coming to over €50 billion last year. US companies based in Ireland employ over 100,000 people, while Irish companies in the US employ tens of thousands across all 50 states,” said the Minister.
The delegation met representatives of Irish and US companies during the visit.
Mr Boehner and his colleagues were later welcomed to Leinster House by Mr Barrett for a courtesy call. They signed the distinguished visitors book and took in a tour of the Houses of the Oireachtas.
Mr Barrett said later that he was very pleased to meet Mr Boehner and his colleagues in the light of the close historical ties between the two countries.
“Our two nations have a long history of cooperation and mutual respect and today’s visit, albeit brief, highlights the commitment both our nations share to fostering those close ties,” he said.