Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he has invited US president Joe Biden to visit Ireland and that Mr Biden said there was "nothing he would like better".
Mr Martin said Mr Biden's schedule "is the key" to any potential visit and that the US president has a "great affinity and affection" for Ireland.
Mr Martin was addressing questions from a number of TDs in the Dáil on Tuesday in relation to recent discussions with the US president. Fianna Fáil’s Seán Haughey asked had the Taoiseach invited Mr Biden to make an official visit to Ireland and “if and when he is likely to come here”.
"The [US] president has very, very warm personal feelings for Ireland and I did invite him to Ireland and he, without hesitation, said there was nothing he would like better than to come to Ireland as president of the United States, " Mr Martin said. "Obviously his schedule is the key in that regard but he has a great affinity and affection for the country, he's very warm with his engagement with us."
Mr Martin said he has had a number of recent contacts with Mr Biden, his most recent a phone call on November 14th when the US president congratulated him on Ireland's rugby team's victory over New Zealand. He also spoke to him at the UN climate conference in Glasgow where Mr Biden "vigorously reaffirmed his full commitment to protecting the Good Friday agreement".
“I expressed my deep appreciation for the strong position he has taken in that regard,” he added.
Mr Martin said Mr Biden will be hosting a virtual summit on democracy on Thursday, which he will also take part in. "I look forward to continuing to work co-operatively and closely with the Biden administration as well as representatives of both parties in [US] congress to deepen Irish-American relations and to strengthen European Union-US relations, co-operate on global challenges and to support the many Irish people who have made a home in the United States," the Taoiseach added. He stressed that Mr Biden had been very consistent in all his conversations with him on the importance of protecting the Belfast Agreement and the Northern Ireland protocol in terms of Brexit.
Mr Biden has traced his Irish roots back to both the Blewitts from Co Mayo and the Finnegans from Co Louth. His great-great grandfather Patrick Blewitt was born in Ballina, Co Mayo, in 1832. Mr Biden's other great-great grandfather was Owen Finnegan, from the Cooley peninsula, Co Louth.