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America's first family arrives in Ireland

Both Michelle and Barack spoke to an invited audience at Waterfront Hall in Belfast this morning.

Image: Peter Muhly/ PA Wire/Press Association Images

BARACK AND MICHELLE Obama addressed a group of students in Belfast this morning as the US President begins his first official visit to Northern Ireland.

The White House residents spoke on the peace process and the expectations of a new generation, drawing parallels between the Troubles and the American Civil War.

“When I was a boy, many cities still had separate drinking fountains and lunch counters and washrooms for blacks and whites. My own parents’ marriage would have been illegal in certain states,” said Barack, adding:

…if towns remain divided – if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs…if we can’t see ourselves in one another and fear or resentment are allowed to harden – that too encourages division and discourages co-operation.

He promised America’s continued support as the path of peace is taken.

Michelle Obama spoke about the choices young people can take to make their mark on the world, leaving behind the prejudices of the past.

To lighten the mood during the speeches, Barack asked the audience: ‘What’s the craic?’ He also referenced poetry by William Butler Yeats and Seamus Heaney.

Michelle quipped that she wanted to introduce “someone who accompanied” her today, joking that she “allowed him travel” with her sometimes.

(YouTube: MOXNEWSd0tC0M)

The couple met First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

The First Lady and her daughters have now separated from the President as he heads to Lough Erne in Enniskillen for the G8 Summit and they travel south to Dublin for a number of engagements.

The trio is due to land at Dublin Airport at 11.30am. From there, they will visit the Book of Kells at Trinity College and explore their ancestry in the Long Library. Later, they will meet US Embassy staff and take in a special performance of Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre.

America's first family arrives in Ireland
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