US vice-president Joe Biden will travel to Ireland next month as part of his repeatedly stated aim to visit his ancestral home before his term in office ends.
During a speech in Washington DC, Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed the visit will take place.
Speaking at the opening night of the ‘Ireland 100’ festival during the first public engagement of his two-day 1916 commemoration trip to the US, Mr Kenny said Mr Biden will come to Ireland “in the coming weeks” to reconnect with his family roots.
It is widely expected the June 21-25 journeywill include time spent in rural Dublin, Louth, and Mayo — the latter of which is Mr Biden’s ancestral home and Mr Kenny’s native county.
“Tonight we have with us a man who is an eminent Irish-American and who, in just a few weeks, will be coming home to Ireland,” said Mr Kenny in a speech at the Kennedy Center.
“Vice-president Joe Biden, we look forward to having you with us. You’ll see that when we say ‘céad míle fáilte, a hundred thousand welcomes’, we aren’t kidding.”
Since taking office in 2008, Mr Biden, 73, has repeatedly said it is his intention to come to this country. It would follow President Barack Obama’s trip to Ireland in May 2011, as well as those made by various others, including Bill Clinton.
Mr Biden’s family has strong ties to Ballina, while White House security staff have given him the codename “Celtic” due to his direct Irish roots.
Speaking at the ‘Ireland 100’ event, Mr Biden said he is “proud to be a descendent” of Ireland and that the heritage “has shaped my entire life”.
He said both nations “are divided by distance but united by history”.
While Mr Biden has repeatedly stressed his Irish links throughout his political career, his notoriously relaxed demeanour in public statements has at times seen the issue land him in avoidable hot water.
During last year’s St Patrick’s Day festivities, Mr Biden joked with reporters that “anyone wearing orange is not allowed in”.
The remark, which was intended to note the previous divide between unionists and nationalists in Ireland, caused a short-lived controversy on both sides of the Atlantic.
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