(Dublin) Joe Biden, embarked on a very sentimental trip to Ireland in the footsteps of his ancestors, addresses Parliament on Thursday in Dublin, a speech which will inevitably recall that of John F. Kennedy, the only other Catholic American president, also from Irish descent.
Arriving in Ireland on Wednesday after a whirlwind stint in the British province of Northern Ireland, Joe Biden planned the most institutional part of his trip on Thursday. He will meet President Michael Higgins and then Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.
He will address above all the two houses of the Irish Parliament to underline “ the close and lasting links between (the) two countries on the historical, cultural, political and economic level ”, indicated his adviser Amanda Sloat.
“JFK” was the first tenant of the White House to come before Irish parliamentarians in 1963.
He had praised “ this character trait of the Irish, this remarkable alliance of hope, confidence and imagination, which we need today more than ever ”.
On Wednesday, during a short speech in the city of Dundalk (northeast), one of the cradles of his family, Joe Biden has already found similar accents.
From a pub, he described America and Ireland as lands of “possibilities” and “faith” in the future: “Anything is possible if we decide. This is who we are”.
The visit to Dublin will be marked by all symbolic ceremonies.
Joe Biden will plant a tree and hear the “peace bell” ringing, installed in 2008 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the peace accords in Northern Ireland.
He went to Belfast on Wednesday to support the fragile balance in force for twenty-five years in the British province.
Northern Ireland’s institutions, meant to lock in cooperation between once-enemy parties, are currently stalled due to disagreements over the aftermath of Brexit.
The 80-year-old Democrat, who has met with key political leaders in Northern Ireland, has called for an end to this paralysis. But he received a cold reception from Unionists attached to belonging to the United Kingdom who block any formation of a local government and qualified him for some as “anti-British”.
In Ireland, he finds himself on more favorable ground, even if he began his visit with one of the blunders of which he has the secret: by evoking a distant cousin rugby player, Rob Kearney, he said that the latter had given thread to retaliate against the “Black and Tans”, a particularly brutal British force that had fought the Irish separatists in the 1920s.
“For any rugby fan in Ireland, the president spoke very clearly about the All Blacks”, the New Zealand team, swept away his adviser Amanda Sloat.
During his diplomatic program, Joe Biden intends to discuss economic issues and support for Ukraine, but these issues are not at the heart of what is mostly a family pilgrimage of Joe Biden.
“ It’s wonderful, it’s like coming home ”, launched the president on Wednesday.
On Friday, he will end his visit with a speech from Ballina, in County Mayo (north-west), after another personal and family visit.
Joe Biden traced in great detail the journey of his ancestors on the maternal side, the Finnegans and the Blewitts.
Paraphrasing James Joyce and his “ When I die, Dublin will be inscribed on my heart ”, the American president had said, a few years ago: “ Northern Pennsylvania (Editor’s note, his native region) will be inscribed on my heart. But Ireland will be inscribed on my soul.”
If Joe Biden’s attachment to the Irish land is not feigned, he is not devoid of political ulterior motives either, as he plans to run again in 2024.
His childhood in a close-knit Irish clan helps polish an image of a president from a modest and hard-working background.
Enough to glean perhaps some votes from the 30 million Americans who claim Irish roots.