WASHINGTON (AP) — Sporting a green tie and fresh shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day, President Joe Biden today voiced his support for a recent economic accord affecting Ireland as he hosted the republic’s prime minister, a longstanding meetup scuttled by the COVID-19 pandemic two years in a row.
Biden was presented with a bowl of shamrocks from Leo Varadkar, known as the taoiseach, a tradition that began in 1952. The shamrocks made it to the White House last year even though then-prime minister Micheál Martin didn’t. He came down with COVID-19 and had to join the meeting virtually while isolated in nearby Blair House, where world leaders often stay when they come to visit the White House. The two leaders’ first annual meeting was virtual, too, because of the pandemic.
“It’s good to have you back in the Oval Office, especially on St Patrick’s Day,” Biden said as he and Varadker discussed their nations’ continued support of Ukraine and how to better deepen their economic ties. “We have a lot to talk about.”
At least 23 current and former American presidents, including former President Barack Obama, claim some Irish ancestry in their family histories.
Biden, who often speaks of his Irish heritage and is fond of quoting Irish poets, declared March Irish-American heritage month. The White House even dyed the South Lawn fountain green for the occasion.