President Joe Biden will host Ireland’s prime minister on Friday, after the COVID-19 pandemic ruined the long-running St. Patrick’s Day gathering two years in a row.
Leo Varadkar, known as the taoiseach, and his partner, Matthew Barrett, will attend a breakfast with Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff. They will then head to the US Capitol for lunch with the leaders of Congress and Biden before the two leaders meet.
The meeting with one of the main US allies comes after Biden said he plans to visit both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland this year, the 25th anniversary of the US-brokered Good Friday deal that helped end the the sectarian violence that had raged for three decades over the question of the unification of Northern Ireland with Ireland or the rest of the United Kingdom.
The deal came under increasing pressure following the UK’s departure from the European Union, but a recent deal between the UK and the EU addresses some of the issues that have arisen around trade and goods crossing the EU. Irish Sea from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
The White House said the agreement, known as the Windsor Framework, is an important step toward upholding the peace agreement.
Varadkar took office in December for a second term as part of a jobs-sharing agreement made by the country’s centrist coalition government. The two leaders are also expected to discuss Ukraine’s continued support in the face of the Russian invasion.
Varadkar is expected to present Biden with a crystal bowl etched with shamrocks, a tradition that began in 1952. The shamrocks made their way to the Oval Office last year even though then-Prime Minister Micheál Martin did not. He caught COVID-19 at an event and had to join the meeting virtually while he self-isolated at nearby Blair House, where world leaders often stay when visiting the White House. His first annual meeting was also virtual due to the pandemic.
Biden will also host a reception for Varadkar later Friday at the White House, which was designed and built by an Irish-born man, James Hoban. He supervised the initial construction, rebuilt after it burned down, and added renovations until his death in 1831.
Biden, who often talks about his Irish heritage and likes to quote Irish poets, declared March Irish-American Heritage Month.
The White House is even dyeing the South Lawn fountain green. According to the Census Bureau, approximately 31.5 million US residents claim Irish descent, second only to Germans.
“Ireland and the United States are forever united by our people and our passion. Everything between us runs deep,” Biden said in his proclamation.
The St. Patrick’s Day tradition has become, like the turkey pardon or Easter egg hunt, an annual event.
“That’s the wonderful thing about this White House history,” said Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association. “It is loaded with rich traditions that are cultural, not just from our own country.”
[Con información de The Associated Press]
Connect with the Voice of America! Subscribe to our channel Youtube and activate notifications, or follow us on social networks: Facebook, Twitter and instagram.