Taoiseach's update on Biden visit to Ireland - there is "nothing he would like better"

Taoiseach's update on Biden visit to Ireland - there is "nothing he would like better"

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL Martin has provided an update on a visit to Ireland by President of the United States Joe Biden.

Speaking in questions and answers in the Dáil on Tuesday, the Taoiseach was asked by Deputy Seán Haughey if he had extended an invite to the president to visit the country.

"It is clear that President Joe Biden is very proud of his Irish roots," Haughey said.

"He proclaims his Irish heritage whenever he can. The most recent example of this was when he called the men's Irish rugby team to congratulate them on their historic victory over New Zealand.

"All of us who believe in multilateral diplomacy and a rules-based international order and who want to see effective measures to tackle climate change, for example, will welcome the change in tone of the US Administration since last year.

"Has the Taoiseach invited President Biden to make an official visit to Ireland? If so, when is he likely to come here?"

In response, the Taoiseach said that Haughey was "correct in saying that the US President has very warm personal feelings for Ireland."

He said he invited him to Ireland and "without hesitation he said that there was nothing he would like better than to come to Ireland as President of the United States."

"Obviously, his schedule is the key in that regard but he has a great affinity with and affection for the country and is very warm in his engagement with us."

He was also asked by several other TDs about recent conversations he had had with the president on topical issues.

"The relationship between Ireland and the United States is deep and of long standing. It is important to the country in many ways, not least politically and economically, and it is one to which I attach the highest value," the Taoiseach said.

"I have had a number of recent contacts with the President of the United States. I most recently spoke to him by phone on 14 November, when he congratulated Ireland on defeating the All Blacks in that wonderful rugby international.

"I also had the opportunity to speak to him in person on the margins of the world leaders' summit at COP26, when he vigorously reaffirmed his full commitment to protecting the Good Friday Agreement and I expressed my deep appreciation for the strong position he has taken in that regard."

The Taoiseach said he looks forward to co-operatively and closely working with the Biden Administration to take on global challenges and support the many Irish people who have made a home in the United States.

Leader of Sinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald said Biden's commitment to the Good Friday Agreement is "very reassuring".

She asked about the president's stance on legacy issues and proposed amnesty legislation from the UK government.

"I did not have the opportunity of discussing legacy with President Biden," the Taoiseach answered.

Martin said "there is a need for people to come forward" if they have information that could be of use.

"In my view, the British Government is wrong on this," he continued. "The Irish Government is not in favour of what the British Government is proposing but there is a need for the provisional movement, essentially, to come forward and show cause because people are not getting closure.

"That would help to change the moral of the argument in terms of the British."