Sat, Mar 19, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Obama plans to visit Ireland in May

AFP, WASHINGTON

The White House fountain is tinted green for a visit by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in Washington on Thursday.

Photo: EPA

US President Barack Obama said on Saint Patrick’s Day he will visit Ireland in May and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny promised him 100,000 welcomes in a land to which he traces some ancestry.

Obama said on Thursday that he and Kenny, making the Irish leader’s traditional visit to the US on Ireland’s national holiday, had an excellent conversation about how Ireland would bounce back from its economic crisis.

“I wanted to say today that I intend to come to Ireland in May and I’m expecting to go not only to all the famous sites, but also to Donegal where my great, great, great, great, great, grandfather hails from,” Obama said.

Obama, wearing a green tie, joked that his Irish American vice president Joe Biden was “envious because he wants to go first.”

The US president is also due to travel on a state visit to Britain in May and is also expected to attend the G8 summit in France.

The president said in his meeting with Kenny, who has been in office just over a week, that he had been brought up to date with the new Irish government’s effort to revive its economy.

“We have had an excellent conversation about how Ireland is going to be bouncing back from the severe economic challenges that it’s experienced over the last several years,” Obama said.

“The Taoiseach shared with me his plans and his efforts to make sure that people are put back to work in Ireland, that the financial system is stabilized. And he exudes great confidence and I’m sure that we will be cooperating very closely with him and providing any assistance that we can on the economic front,” he said.

Later, Obama hosted a Saint Patrick’s Day party for Kenny at the White House, which was packed with prominent Irish Americans.

Kenny told him that news of his decision to visit Ireland had “reverberated around the world already and he would get 100,000 welcomes.”

“We’re glad, Mr President, that you will visit us in a short time. I hope, when you do so, your stay will symbolize the life-giving bond between Ireland and the United States of America. We are your gateway to Europe. And I say again this evening, that gateway is wide open and continues to be ready for business,” Kenny said.

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