of St. Patrick's Day, Obama hails U.S.-Irish ties
Send a link to a friend
[March 15, 2014]
By Will Dunham
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — President Barack
Obama met with Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny on Friday — and even
sang along to an Irish folk song — three days ahead of St. Patrick's Day
as the two leaders held the annual celebration of U.S.-Irish relations.
It was all smiles in the White House Oval office as Obama welcomed
Kenny and lauded the "incredible bond" between the two countries. "I
think it's fair to say that there are very few countries around the
world where the people-to-people ties are so strong," Obama said.
The president praised Ireland's economic progress following the
financial crisis and said the two leaders discussed the Ukraine
crisis. Obama also said he was disappointed that talks between the
leaders of Northern Ireland's Catholic and Protestant communities
broke down on December 31 without agreement to ease tensions in the
The talks were a response to some of the highest levels of street
violence and attacks by militant groups since a peace and
power-sharing deal reached in 1998. "We're urging the parties to
continue to work and negotiate," Obama said.
Kenny said he and Obama discussed U.S. immigration reform, which
Ireland's prime minister said "is an issue for Ireland and for many
The Democratic-led Senate has passed immigration legislation backed
by Obama that would offer a pathway to citizenship for 11 million
illegal immigrants, but it has stalled in the Republican-led House
[to top of second column]
Obama and Kenny then traveled to the U.S. Capitol building for a St.
Patrick's Day lunch with House Speaker John Boehner, the top
Republican in Congress. As singers Gerry Timlin and Tom Kane belted
out the folk song "Wild Rover," Obama bobbed his head and sang
along, as did others at the event.
Obama and Boehner, on opposite sides of many political issues,
smiled and bantered at the Capitol, each wearing a green necktie,
donning the traditional color of Ireland.
Earlier, Vice President Joe Biden hosted Kenny at a breakfast
featuring, among other things, Irish soda bread.
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.