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Monday 27 March 2023 Dublin: 9°C
PA Taoiseach kicks off his St Patrick's Day itinerary today in Washington DC.
# Washington DC
Varadkar: 'We'll roll out the red carpet for Joe Biden's visit to Ireland next month'
Taoiseach to attend $1,000 per plate gala dinner this evening.

LAST UPDATE | Mar 15th 2023, 2:35 PM

Christina Finn reporting from Washington DC

THE RED CARPET is going to be rolled out for US President Joe Biden when he visits Ireland next month, according to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Speaking to the media at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC, Varadkar said there has been a “long standing invitation” to Biden to come to Ireland.

Arriving to the US yesterday, the Taoiseach has a busy schedule for the next few days, culminating in a meeting with the US President on Friday in the White House.

Varadkar told reporters today that he was looking forward to talking to Biden about his plans to travel to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

“I’m really looking forward to that visit. In many ways President Biden is coming home,” said the Taoiseach, pointing out that the US president often speaks of himself as being an Irish American.

“We’re going to roll out the red carpet and we’re going to be making sure that he feels very welcome. We will particularly want to thank him and thank America for the pivotal role that they played, both in helping to build our economy and also helping to build peace in Ireland,” said Varadkar. 

A statement from the White House about the meeting between the two leaders this week states that they will  both reaffirm “the close and historic partnership between the United States and Ireland and the extraordinary bonds between our people”.

“They will discuss their countries’ shared commitment to continue supporting Ukraine in the face of Russia’s brutal aggression, as well as their cooperation on a range of other global issues.

“They will reaffirm their steadfast support for the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement as we approach its 25th anniversary and welcome the recent agreement between the UK and EU on the Windsor Framework as an important step in preserving the Agreement’s peace dividend.

taoiseach-visit-to-the-us PA Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking in the Senate Room at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, during his visit to the US for St Patrick's Day. PA

The Taoiseach kicks off his St Patrick’s Day itinerary today, firstly taking part in a ‘Meet and Greet’ with Enterprise Ireland client companies, before taking part in Enterprise Ireland sessions. 

The Taoiseach will also meet with US food industry senior executives, before giving a presentation of the St Patrick’s Day Science Foundation Ireland Medals. Last year, Stripe founders John and Patrick Collison received the award.

Varadkar will then take part in high-level executives representing ten companies before addressing in a keynote speech the US Chamber of Commerce.

This evening, he will attend the Ireland Funds dinner, an event where Irish-Americans and the diaspora pay $1,000 per plate to attend.

The event will be attended by the US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and US Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy. It was attended by US President Joe Biden last year, with speculation that he could make another appearance this year, if he returns from the west coast in time. 

Varadkar will be hoping the evening goes off without a hitch this year.

Over the last couple of years, the dinner has proved newsworthy. In 2020, Varadkar was whisked out of the room during the event to be briefed on the escalating Covid situation back home.

The next day, he placed the country in lockdown in his now famous speech to the nation on the steps of Blair House, located across the road from the White House. 

It was Micheál Martin who was whisked out of the room last year having tested positive for Covid-19 just a couple of hours before the event.

It scuppered his chances of meeting Biden and resulted in him isolating in Washington DC for another week.

While Covid-19 restrictions have been scrapped in the US, foreign dignitaries and their travelling parties, including the media, must take PCR and antigen tests before attending the White House events on Friday. 

On Thursday, the Taoiseach will meet with Hillary Clinton with both politicians taking part in an event at Georgetown University, titled: ‘Women at the Helm: The Unfinished Business of the Good Friday Agreement.’

The conference will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and spotlight the role that women played in forging and sustaining peace.

It will also reflect on the unfinished nature of the peace process and generate strategies for locking in peace for the next 25 years.

Clinton met the Tánaiste in New York this week where she said she was optimistic about the future of Northern Ireland.

On the same day, Varadkar will also meet with the Washington Post Editorial Board. He will then attend a Good Friday Agreement event before attending a St Patrick’s Day reception in the new Irish embassy in Washington DC, which reportedly cost €15 million.

Varadkar will begin St Patrick’s Day with breakfast at the US Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence at the US Naval Observatory, with the Taoiseach’s partner Matthew Barrett also in attendance.

A 45 minute bilateral meeting between Biden and Varadkar will take place just after 10am. Varadkar will later attend the Friends of Ireland Luncheon at the US Capitol hosted by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. 

A meeting between the Taoiseach and Speaker McCarthy will then take place, followed by a meeting with the Friends of Ireland Caucus.

The US president will then host the St Patrick’s Day reception and shamrock ceremony at the White House, with a ‘cultural showcase’ to follow at the Kennedy Center where it is expected some high profile Irish singers will perform.

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