Updated: 25/03/17 : 06:49:53Printable Version
In addition to the traditional White House and Capitol Hill events in Washington, my trip to the United States last week involved an extensive programme of events involving the Irish American Community, business and political leaders, and others across four states.
In Philadelphia, I attended an event hosted by the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, a charitable organisation that was founded on St. Patrick’s Day way back in 1771 and continues to offer strong support to Irish emigrants in a myriad of ways to this day. The Friendly Sons were one of the strongest supporters of Irish emigrants to America during the time of the famine and Philadelphia is also the location of the most intricate and impressive famine memorial I have seen. It was here that I announced the Government’s intention to hold a referendum to allow Irish Citizens resident outside the State, including in Northern Ireland, the right to vote in Irish presidential elections which I am glad to say has been very well received.
Potential issues for Ireland arising from Brexit was naturally a strong theme of this year’s St Patrick’s Day visit and this was something I discussed at some length during my meetings last week with politicians including Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, former Vice President Joe Biden, US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and obviously Vice President Pence and President Trump. The scope to implement new transatlantic trade deals was also something I discussed with the respective leaders.
My meeting with President Trump in the Oval Office was very productive. In addition to Brexit and what that will involve, we discussed the Irish emigration story and in particular the 50,000 undocumented Irish. This is obviously a complex issue which will require a great deal of co-operation in the time ahead but I am very glad that there is clear agreement within the new Administration to work constructively.
Of course this was also the week in which Martin McGuinness passed away and I attended his funeral mass in Derry. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h'anam.
Yours sincerely,Enda Kenny TD