President Joe Biden

Biden, Congress Host Irish Visitors

The nation's capital is rolling out the green carpet for Irish visitors.

The carpet pile will be deeper, the welcome warmer against the backdrop of a receding, for now at least, in the restrictions arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

This St. Patrick's Day, then, will more resemble 2019 than either 2020 or 2021.

Leading the Irish arrivals will be Taoiseach Micheál Martin who will attend several events including the annual Ireland Funds dinner Wednesday evening, Capitol Hill gatherings on Thursday and a reception hosted by President Biden and First Lady at the White House. The president is also due to speak at the Ireland Funds dinner.

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The taoiseach will present President Biden with the traditional bowl of shamrock and confer privately with him. As well as Irish and Anglo Irish issues Ukraine is certain to be included in the meeting of the two leaders.

Other Irish visitors include Sinn Féin leaders Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill who traveled to Washington after a series of engagements in New York including an event at the American Council on Foreign Relations and an Irish Unity debate at Fordham University. 

In Washington, the two will brief members of the Biden administration and senior political leaders on Capitol Hill including the Congressional Friends of Ireland Group and Senator Chris Murphy. They will also attend the Ireland Fund dinner.

"On Thursday they will attend the Northern Executive Breakfast, the Speakers Lunch and the St. Patrick’s Day reception in the White House," said a release from Sinn Féin.

One who would have been in the D.C. St. Patrick's Day mix but who is not is U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Claire Cronin.

Cronin had to scrap travel plans at the last minute after testing positive for Covid-19.

In a message posted online, Ambassador Cronin said: “While preparing to travel to Washington, DC, I tested positive for Covid. 

“I am deeply disappointed to miss the in-person meeting between President Biden and Taoiseach Micheal Martin, and the St Patrick’s Day festivities with Ambassador Dan Mulhall. Thankful to be fully vaccinated and I am feeling well.”