(Dublin) On an emotional journey in the footsteps of his predecessors, Joe Biden was welcomed Thursday as a native of the country in Ireland, mingling before parliament the close American-Irish relationship and his personal history.
Arriving in Ireland on Wednesday after a whirlwind — and politically sensitive — break in the British province of Northern Ireland, the US president appeared to be enjoying the warm welcome he received all day away from Washington, in the country he said holds his “soul.” “.
After receiving military honors with President Michael Higgins, and watching local sports such as Gaelic football with Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, he arrived in Parliament with all smiles to address the MPs and Senators there, like John Fitzgerald Kennedy 60 years earlier, the only other Catholic American president , also of Irish descent.
“President Biden, you are among your friends today, because you are one of us,” House Speaker Sean Overgill confirmed, introducing him.
“I’m Home” began in Joe Biden’s Irish, solemnly, sometimes affected as if invoking the memory of his mother, before praising in English the “enduring strength” of the ties between Ireland and the United States. The United States, but also the values that unite the two countries: “Freedom, Equality, Dignity, Family, Courage.”
This association is also not without political ulterior motives, for a president who plans to run again in 2024.
His childhood in a close-knit Irish clan cultivated the image of a chief from a humble, hard-working background. What possibly gathers votes from the 30 million americans who claim to have irish roots.
And Irish immigration allows Joe Biden to craft his favorite rhetoric, about American promises and “possibilities,” about “faith” in the future, and the “dignity” he intends to restore.
The US president also addressed a spade to the British neighbour, calling on London to “work closely” with Dublin to preserve peace in Northern Ireland, which has been weakened by tensions arising from Brexit.
Such a statement brings the tone to the mill of those who pointed out the brevity of his visit to Belfast on Wednesday, to uphold the balance in place since the signing of the Good Friday Peace Accord some time ago, just 25 years ago.
Northern Irish institutions, which are supposed to sanctify cooperation between formerly hostile parties, are currently banned. The US President, who met the main political leaders of Northern Ireland, called for an end to this paralysis. But this Catholic Democrat, who is deeply attached to his Irish heritage, received a cold reception from unionists.
Associated with belonging to the United Kingdom, the latter prevents the formation of a local government and describes it to some as “anti-British.”
The White House claims it received only “positive” feedback after this brief visit to Belfast.
In Dublin, everything was done to show that the US president’s relationship with Ireland goes beyond diplomacy. His visit, similar to the one he made as Vice President in 2016, is a very personal matter.
Joe Biden follows in the footsteps of his predecessors, who like many others left famine-ravaged Ireland in the 19th century.H Century, to seek a better life in the United States.
His official trip includes two visits to two areas presented as the ancestral birthplaces of Chief Finnegan and Belewitt.
There was County Louth (Northeast) on Wednesday, and Ballina will be in County Mayo (Northwest) on Friday, where Joe Biden will give a speech.
But the US president made a fuss about one of these blunders that he is used to.
Referring to his distant rugby cousin Rob Kearney, he said on Wednesday the latter had given a hard time to the Black and Tans, a particularly brutal British force that fought Irish separatists in the 1920s.
Before Parliament on Thursday, he corrected: the Oval Office has been entrusted with keeping the ball signed for Ireland’s game against New Zealand’s All Blacks.
“Total coffee aficionado. Travel buff. Music ninja. Bacon nerd. Beeraholic.”