US vice president Joe Biden declared “I am delighted to be home” after arriving in Ireland last night for his six-day visit.
Mr Biden was met at Dublin Airport last night at the foot of Air Force 2 on the runway by Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan. He was then sped by a security cavalcade involving over 20 cars and armed vehicles through the city centre to meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Government Buildings.
The Star Spangled Banner was placed standing up alongside the tri-colour at Government Buildings for the arrival of the vice president.
It is understood the two held an official meeting discussing relations between Ireland and the US, trade between the two nations, the North’s peace process, as well as European security matters.
It was not all grace and smiles for the arrival of the White House VIP however. Some workers in the city complained of road closures due to security precautions while some air passengers at Dublin Airport earlier were also inconvenienced with the landing of Air Force 2.
Mr Biden will stay at the US ambassador’s residence in the Phoenix Park while here and a major security operation involving gardaí and the defence forces is likely to shut down parts of Dublin.
But back inside Government Buildings last night, proceedings were a little more relaxed. Mr Kenny gave Mr Biden a hurley and sliotar while the vice president joked that hurling was a “dangerous game”.
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Elsewhere though in Mayo, last-minute preparations were under way last night for the arrival of Mr Biden, where he is set to visit his ancestral roots in the Taoiseach’s home county and take in a game of golf.
Locals in Ballina were hanging bunting and flags. A local heritage centre has also traced the vice president’s maternal roots in Mayo. It says records show that Mr Biden’s great great grandfather, Patrick Blewitt of Scranton, was born in the early 1830s in the Garden Street area of the town.
Such is the anticipation of the US vice president’s trip to Mayo, there is even talk of ‘Biden burgers’ being put on menus in the town.
Mr Biden will meet President Michael D Higgins today before travelling to Co Mayo.
Later in the week, he will return to Dublin to give a speech at Dublin Castle and attend the American Ireland Fund 40th anniversary gala.
On the weekend, the vice president is set to visit Newgrange in Co Meath before travelling on to the Cooley peninsula in Co Louth, where he has other ancestral links on his maternal side.
Mr Biden will also finally have a lunch with Mr Kenny on Sunday in Dublin before flying back to Washington.
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