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Dublin: 7 °C Friday 18 October, 2019
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Obama leaves country whose 'best days are still ahead' as he begins UK visit

Barack Obama and his wife arrived in London last night, leaving behind a country that fell in love with them in a matter of hours. He begins a three-day state visit to the UK today where he will meet Queen Elizabeth, fresh from her own Irish trip.

The Obamas arrive in London last night.
The Obamas arrive in London last night.
Image: Chris Radburn/PA Wire/Press Association Images

BARACK OBAMA LEFT Ireland ahead of schedule last night as he began his state visit to the UK following the most extraordinary whistle-stop tour of Ireland yesterday.

The US president and his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama arrived at Stansted airport last night, more than 12 hours ahead of schedule because of fears that he would be stranded by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud. Not that we would have minded if he had.

Today’s papers are predictably hailing the visit, citing Obama’s speech in which he said Ireland’s “best days are still ahead”, the headline in today’s Irish Times which says that Obama encouraged Ireland to not give in to those who say it cannot succeed.

The Irish Independent leads with “Is féidir linn” or “Yes we can”, the immortal words that closed his rousing speech at a sunny College Green in Dublin where it was estimated that some 100,000 people had turned out to see the president, not all of them making it in to the temporary arena.

“Is féidir linn” also leads the frontpage of the Irish Daily Mail which notes that 150 years after his great-great-great grandfather left Ireland to follow a dream, “the most powerful man on earth” returned in a culmination of that dream.

“Sláinte, Mr President” is the headline on the Irish Examiner which produces a photo collage of the historic day at the centre of which is Obama gulping down a pint of the black stuff.

The paper adds that the President wooed the crowd with his cúpla focal in a stirring 24-minute speech.

The Irish Daily Mirror leads with “Believe” quoting Obama’s line about the US-Irish relationship in which he said that: “never has a nation so small inspired so much in another”.

In the Irish Daily Star it poses the question “Can I get a pint of the Barack stuff” answering “Yes you can” as Obama is again pictured taking a mighty gulp from his pint of porter.

The Irish Sun headline reads: “Barack: To The Future” saying that Obama raised hopes and sank a pint.

Today, Obama begins a three-day state visit to the UK where he will stay at Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth, no doubt trading stories about their adventures in Ireland.

More seriously, talks with UK prime minister David Cameron are likely to focus on the conflict in Libya and the Middle East.

In a joint article in today’s Times newspaper (subscription required), Obama and Cameron said that the “special relationship” was also an essential one “for us and the world”.

Later this week Obama will visit Poland and France where he will attend a meeting of the G8 leaders.

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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