(Dublin) Embarking on a sentimental journey in the footsteps of his ancestors in Ireland, Joe Biden addresses Parliament in Dublin on Thursday, in the footsteps of John F. Kennedy, the only other Catholic American president, also of Irish origin.
Arriving in Ireland on Wednesday after a whirlwind – and politically delicate – stay in the British province of Northern Ireland, Joe Biden planned the most institutional part of his trip to this country on Thursday, which he says he carries in his “soul”.
He was given a warm welcome, with crowds lining his motorcade’s route through Dublin and military honors as he arrived in bright sunshine at the presidential residence to meet Michael Higgins.
“ I’m not leaving! joked to reporters the 80-year-old Democrat, who said Wednesday he felt like he was “coming home”.
He must then meet Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and above all address 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”.
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. What may glean votes from the 30 million Americans who claim Irish roots.
During his institutional program, Joe Biden intends to discuss economic issues and support for Ukraine, but these subjects are not at the heart of what is above all a family pilgrimage of Joe Biden.
Joe Biden traced in great detail the journey of his ancestors on the maternal side, the Finnegans and the Blewitts.
On Friday, he will end his visit with a speech from Ballina, in County Mayo (north-west), after another personal and family visit.
In the meantime, Thursday promises to be loaded with symbols. Joe Biden will plant a tree very close to the one planted by Barack Obama in 2011 and will hear the “peace bell” ringing, installed in 2008 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the peace agreements in Northern Ireland.
He went to Belfast on Wednesday to support the balance in force for twenty-five years in the British province, which today seems to be weakened.
Northern Irish institutions, supposed to organize cooperation between the once enemy parties, are currently blocked due to disagreements over the outcome of Brexit.
The American president, who met with the main political leaders of Northern Ireland, 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 described him for some as “anti-British”.
To make matters worse, his visit to Ireland began with one of the blunders of which he has the secret: by evoking a distant cousin of rugby player, Rob Kearney, he said that the latter had given a hard time to 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.