Varadkar: Ireland has ally in the White House after Biden’s successful visit

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Irish Premier Leo Varadkar has seen US President Joe Biden off from Ireland West Airport as he hailed a successful trip and said Ireland has an ally in the White House.

Thousands of people attended the president’s speech in Ballina Co Mayo, waving Irish and American flags and cheering for Mr Biden as he completed his final engagement of his four day trip to Ireland.

Mr Varadkar said that President Joe Biden’s visit “had the feeling of a homecoming”.

Speaking at Ireland West Airport late on Friday night, Mr Varadkar said: “I thought the day went really well and tonight in Ballina was great.

“Ballina was looking amazing, really good crowds and it really had the feeling of a homecoming.

“Just really happy with how everything has gone and I know they are very happy on the US side as well.

“I said at the start of it I hoped it would enable us to cement Irish-US relations; they have never been better in my experience and I think that has been achieved.”

Over the course of the trip Mr Biden has visited Co Louth, where some of his family have been traced to, visited a heritage centre in Mayo, and toured a pilgrimage site at Knock.

But Mr Varadkar said that the visit was not just about Mr Biden exploring his family connections and heritage.

“There was a lot of business done too, it was a really big delegation, two cabinet secretaries, 15 to 20 members of congress, senior advisors, senior officials, so there were a huge number of other meetings happening around the place,” he said.

“For example agriculture ministers met to talk about food security and to talk about food prices, the Tanaiste met with Secretary of State (Anthony) Blinken.

“At every level people were meeting their counterparts.”

Mr Varadkar had a private meeting with the president on Thursday where they discussed Northern Ireland, the US-Irish relationship and the war in Ukraine.

The pair also met last month when the Taoiseach visited Washington DC over St Patrick’s day.

“And then obviously the meeting I had with President Biden in Farmleigh enabled us to develop on a meeting we had in the White House,” Mr Varadkar said.

“It is often at the second meeting you are able to get past pleasantries quite quickly and get down to business.”

He added: “It has been very useful.

“Without any doubt we have an ally in the White House, we have an administration that is looking out for Ireland and that is a really special thing to have the biggest political power in the world, the biggest economy in the world, that has a president, an administration that is interested in a small country of 5m people.”

In front of the thousands gathered in Ballina, Mr Varadkar thanked Mr Biden for his ongoing commitment to Ireland.

“Thank you, for your lifelong commitment to peace on our island, your friendship, for the leadership you have shown protecting all that has been achieved, and for everything you are doing to help build a better future here, in America and in our world,” he said.

“In this place, history and hope are never too far apart.”

During his speech in Ballina, Mr Biden said the town has become part of his soul.

“It feels like coming home, it really does,” he said.

“Over the years stories of this place have become part of my soul, part of my family lore.”

Mr Biden said he and his siblings were raised with “a fierce pride in our Irish ancestry”.

The president left Ireland to fly to his home state of Delaware late on Friday night.

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