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Way to Joe Taoiseach praises President Biden following virtual St Patrick's Day meeting

Taoiseach Micheal Martin held a virtual meeting with US President Joe Biden on St Patrick’s Day.

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Micheal Martin speaking with US President Joe Biden (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Micheal Martin speaking with US President Joe Biden (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Micheal Martin speaking with US President Joe Biden (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

President Joe Biden’s “steps to bring the US back to centre stage on global health, on climate and on human rights” have been praised by the Taoiseach.

Micheal Martin “met” Mr Biden virtually on St Patrick’s Day.

The Taoiseach’s traditional visit to the White House and shamrock presentation was cancelled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier, Mr Martin also had virtual meetings with US Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Mr Biden said he hopes the traditional visit and shamrock ceremony can take place at the White House next St Patrick’s Day.

He thanked the Taoiseach for a bowl of shamrock which had been delivered to him, and said the White House will be lit up green to “celebrate the deep, deep affection that we Americans have for Ireland and the people of Ireland”.

“It includes millions of Americans like my great-great grandfather, my great grandfather and my grandfather, all of whom were Irish-Americans, on both sides of the family,” he said.

Mr Biden said Ireland and the United States have a “robust agenda”, including combating Covid-19, strengthening global health security, discussions on economic co-operation and Ireland’s leadership on the UN Security Council.

He also restated his support for the Good Friday Agreement, adding it was “critically important” it was maintained.

“The political and economic stability of Northern Ireland is very much in the interest of all of our people,” he said.

Mr Biden also referred to the two countries working together on cancer research.

“Everything between Ireland and the United States runs deep – our joys, our sorrows, our passion, our drive, our unrelenting optimism and hope,” he said.

Responding, Mr Martin told Mr Biden that the people of Ireland are “so proud of your election” as a “proud son of Ireland”.

“It feels strange to have to celebrate apart. As you know well, Irish people love to come together to celebrate our heritage and culture with song, with dance, with parades, with poetry and with pride, and this year because of the pandemic it just simply isn’t possible,” he said.

“I greatly look forward to you being able to visit Ireland as you have done so many times and so memorably before. I also hope it will not be long before I can visit the United States again.

“For now, the bowl of shamrock in front of you is a symbol of the undying friendship between our two countries, a symbol of the good times we have shared and the challenges we have endured, always at each other’s side.”

Mr Martin went on to tell Mr Biden that the policies of their respective countries are “closely aligned” on the “big challenges the world faces”.

He also told him that the world has “rightly taken great heart from the steps you have already taken to bring the US back to centre stage on global health, on climate and on human rights”.

Earlier, US Vice President Kamala Harris told Mr Martin that her country’s commitment to Ireland “remains steadfast and strong”.

Ms Harris spoke of her regret that they were not able to meet in person and expressed hope that next year they will “share a good breakfast together”.

“I will tell you that our commitment to Ireland remains steadfast and strong,” she said.

Mr Martin told Ms Harris that the ties between their two nations were “rich” and “deep”.

He also congratulated her on becoming the first female US vice president, adding: “You may be the first woman in your role, but you will not be the last.

“I hope that I will have the opportunity to welcome you to Ireland too during your time as vice president.

“I look forward to our discussions but, most of all, I am delighted to have this opportunity to get to know you and to wish you a very happy St Patrick’s Day.”

Mass shootings in Atlanta which saw eight people killed were mentioned.

Ms Harris described the incident as “tragic”, adding she and Mr Biden were grieving for those lost.

Mr Martin expressed his condolences to the president and vice president, the American people and the grieving families of those killed and injured.

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