© 2022 MTPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

President Biden's virtually met with Irish prime minister for St. Patrick's Day

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

President Biden is facing a crisis in Europe, a Supreme Court confirmation and a still-lingering pandemic. Amid all of this, Biden made sure to carve out some time today to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, even in the face of yet another COVID curveball. NPR's Scott Detrow has more.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Biden's Irish heritage is a core part of his political identity.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: The Irish poet Seamus Heaney once wrote, history says, don't hope on this side of the grave. But then, once in a lifetime, the longed-for tidal wave of justice can rise up, and hope and history rhyme.

DETROW: That was Biden's acceptance speech at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, a speech Biden delivered to an almost-empty room of socially distanced reporters. The virtual convention was followed by a mostly crowd-free inauguration and then a year at the White House without any state dinners, Easter egg rolls or many of the other lighter parts of the job. So with pandemic restrictions lifted, the very Irish Biden seemed very excited to mark St Patrick's Day.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BIDEN: Thank you. Please.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: Thank you very much.

DETROW: Last night, Biden spoke at a gala hosted by The Ireland Fund. He shouted-out just about every Irish American ancestor. He read poems. He name-checked multiple Irish peninsulas.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BIDEN: And we also went to Lily Finnegan's Pub...

(LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: ...For spirits and meet some of my distant relatives.

(WHISTLING, LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: You know it.

DETROW: Biden pointed out he'd hosted Ireland's Taioseach, Micheal Martin, several times when Biden was vice president and Martin was foreign minister. He said he was looking forward to today's Oval Office meeting between the two.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BIDEN: You're Taioseach and I'm President. What the hell are we going to do?

(LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: You know, I don't - I mean - it's a...

DETROW: Then came COVID - again. Wednesday night, Martin tested positive. So even though he was directly across the street in Blair House, Martin appeared on a TV screen next to the president.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TAIOSEACH MICHEAL MARTIN: Last year, we met virtually across the Atlantic.

BIDEN: At least we're closer.

MARTIN: This year, we're meeting virtually across the road, so we're getting closer.

DETROW: Then it was off to Capitol Hill for the annual luncheon. Biden quoted more poetry and quoted more Irish relatives. Still, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden was disappointed. In one of his speeches, Biden said the Irish are the only people in the world, quote, "who actually are nostalgic for the future." In that spirit, he can try again for a COVID-free St. Patrick's Day next year. Scott Detrow, NPR News, the White House.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE DUBLINERS' "COOLEY'S REEL/THE DAWN/THE MULLINGAR RACES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.