Irish premier fulfils pledge to roll out red carpet for Joe Biden

When they met at the White House on St Patrick’s Day in Washington, Leo Varadkar pledged to roll out the red carpet for Joe Biden when he got to Ireland.

On Thursday night, with a banquet dinner in St Patrick’s Hall at Dublin Castle, the Taoiseach delivered on his promise.

As the world’s media waited for the arrival of the president, running significantly behind schedule after a packed day of events, the red carpet outside the State Apartments became the focus of attention.

The theme of the dinner, attended by current and retired politicians and public servants, was in-season Irish produce.

The menu consisted of a seafood starter with Lambay Island crab cake, a roast lamb main course and pear and maple tart for dessert.

Opening the banquet, Mr Varadkar said Ireland and the US shared a “similar past and philosophy”.

He added: “When we become beacons of hope as well as of liberty, helping others to find their own paths to freedom, and the freedom to achieve freedom – that is the promise of America, and it is the promise of Ireland too.”

Mr Biden received a standing ovation as he finished his speech in which he reflected on his family roots and told the audience: “No barrier is too thick or too strong for Ireland or the United States of America.

“Together we have worked to become more peaceful, more equal, more diverse, more unified, and I think more hopeful.

“So today, wherever there’s a yearning for freedom, a struggle for change, a cry for justice, people around the world know they can count on Ireland.

“They can count on Ireland.

President Biden visit to the island of Ireland
Joe Biden arrives for the state dinner at Dublin Castle (Damien Storan/PA)

“Let’s renew our commitment to defending all the values we stand for. And let’s remember, no barrier’s too thick or too strong for Ireland or the United States of America. Especially today.

“There’s nothing, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, there’s nothing our nations can’t achieve if we do it together.”

In the same room at Dublin Castle in 2011, Queen Elizabeth II made history when she spoke in Irish during her first visit to the Republic of Ireland.

Mr Biden evoked similar memories on Thursday when he spoke in Irish during his address at Leinster House.

At the White House last month Mr Varadkar said the president’s Irish visit would be “like no other”.

As the third day of Mr Biden’s trip to the island came to a conclusion, it was becoming clear he had also delivered on that promise.

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