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Susan Walsh/PA
Marty Walsh

Irish-speaking Boston mayor nominated as Biden's labour secretary

Biden says he considered nominating Bernie Sanders for the Cabinet position.

LAST UPDATE | Jan 8th 2021, 9:14 PM

IRISH-AMERICAN DEMOCRAT Marty Walsh, the current mayor of Boston, has been nominated to be labour secretary in Joe Biden’s administration. 

Walsh is the son of emigrants from Connemara, Co Galway and is able to speak the native language.

Introducing Walsh at a press conference in Delaware this afternoon, Biden joked that the only downside of nominating his “good friend” was that his parents were “not from Mayo, they’re from Galway”. 

“Marty was born and raised in Dorchester. I know him, tough as nails, diagnosed with cancer at age seven, beat it at age 11,” Biden said.

“Marty knows worker power means not just protecting the right to unionise, but encouraging unionisation collective bargaining.”

Accepting the nomination Walsh said: “I look forward to working with you to deliver good jobs with dignity, security, prosperity and purpose to all American families.”

Walsh has visited Ireland on numerous occasions, making his first official overseas trip to the country as mayor in 2014. 

He was greeted for his 10-day trip that year by local dignitaries and spoke to reporters in Irish. 

Speaking in Shannon Airport, he said the visit was a “milestone for me personally”.

“I look forward to working with you to deliver good jobs with dignity, security, prosperity and purpose to all American families.”

Shannon Airport / YouTube

The current US labour secretary is Eugene Scalia. The person holding the position is a member of the US Cabinet and is responsible for controlling the Department of Labour.

Speaking at today’s press conference, Biden said he had been considering nominating Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders as his labour secretary but eventually decided not to do so because it could have put the fragile  Democratic Senate majority at risk.

“I did give serious consideration of nominating my friend Bernie Sanders to this position,” Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, as he announced key nominees for his economic team.

“I’m confident he could have done a fantastic job,” Biden said of Sanders, who represents the left wing of the party and challenged Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination. “I can think of no more passionate ally to working people in this country.”

Biden said he and Sanders agreed not to proceed with the nomination after Democrats swept two Senate races in Georgia, giving the party a slim majority in the body.

Democrats and Republicans each now hold 50 seats in the Senate but Democrats have the majority through Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote.

“Bernie and I agreed – as a matter of fact Bernie said – we can’t put control of the Senate at risk on the outcome of a special election in Vermont,” Biden said.

Biden said he and Sanders had agreed they would “work together” and meet with “working men and women who feel forgotten, left behind in this economy.”

“We agreed we’ll work closely on our shared agenda,” he said.

With reporting from Adam Daly and AFP

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