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Joe Biden in Ireland: US president to address Irish parliament

The US President Joe Biden’s visit to Ireland continues on Thursday with set-piece engagements, including an address to the Irish parliament.

He will spend most of the day in the company of leading Irish politicians and meet Irish President Michael D Higgins.

His visit to the Republic of Ireland encompasses both the personal and the political.

President Biden visited both Dundalk and his ancestral roots in the town of Carlingford in County Louth.

Mr Biden met distant relatives in the Cooley Peninsula, where crowds lined the quayside as the presidential motorcade arrived.

Later in Dundalk, there were shouts of “welcome home, Joe” when Mr Biden arrived to address an audience at the town’s Windsor Bar.

There he said Irish people were the “only people in the world in my view who are actually nostalgic about the future”.

On Thursday, President Biden will begin his working day with a visit to Áras an Uachtaráin, the home of the Irish president in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

While there he is expected to inspect a military guard of honour, plant an oak tree to mark the occasion, to sign the visitors’ book and ring the Bell of Peace.

It is unclear whether there will be a photo-opportunity involving the two men and President Higgins’ popular and much-loved dogs Bród and Misneach.

A joint delegation attending the event will include Tánaiste (Irish deputy prime minister) Micheál Martin, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and former Irish football star Paul McGrath.

A major security operation is under way in the Republic of Ireland’s capital, with a number of city centre roads closed.

Polythene wraps have also been placed around bins along the route the US president will take.

Phoenix Park has been shut until 17:00 local time on Thursday, with pavements near Dublin Castle shut for pedestrians until midnight on Friday.

Then President Biden is expected to travel the short distance to Farmleigh House where he will have a bilateral with the Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar.

His next significant engagement will be addressing both houses of the Oireachtas (Parliament) – the Dáil and the Seanad (Senate), with former leaders expected to attend.

After his Oireachtas address, President Biden will be the evening guest of honour at a state function in Dublin Castle, the former seat of British power in Ireland.

Despite the rain, people lined the streets of Carlingford to welcome the US President back to Ireland – among them, distant relatives.

Eamonn Thornton celebrates Mr Biden’s Irish ancestry with “From Whitestown, County Louth to the White House, Washington,” emblazoned on the back of his white van.

“His Irishness has stood to him – he’s a down-to-earth man,” he told BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme.

Mr Thornton met his relative, who he calls a local, during one of his last visits.

“When he was here the last time, he just came in and welcomed everyone, very emotional having visited the grave of his great-great grandparents.

“For him to be at the graveyard touching the headstone of his relations, who would ever have thought that would happen to a local?”

Mr Thornton is convinced his relative is keen for another four years at the White House.

“His age is against him, but he has the Irish spirit in him and that’s as good as seven points on the football field.”


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