Joe Biden: what did he say during address to Irish Parliament? President calls for end to Stormont stalemate

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Biden was welcomed with rapturous applause as he arrived inside the chamber at Leinster House

With his Irish trip drawing to a close, US President Joe Biden has made a historic address inside the Irish Parliament calling on the UK and Ireland to work together to resolve issues in Northern Ireland.

The US leader spoke inside the chamber of Dublin's Leinster House after visiting his "home" of Ireland. He was welcomed by rapturous applause and cheers as he entered the chamber.

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Biden is the fourth US president to address the Irish Parliament, with his predecessors John F Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton all making high profile visits in 1963, 1984 and 1995 respectively.

As well as strengthening US-Irish relations, Biden's trip had a sentimental value to the 80-year-old, who has ancestral roots in the country. He opened his address to the chamber speaking Gaelic, saying: “Ta me sa bhaile” (I am home).

He also attempted to laugh off a gaffe made yesterday while wishing speaking in a Dundulk pub about rugby player Rob Kearney. Biden mistakenly referred to the New Zealand 'All Blacks' rugby team as the 'black and tans' - the name of the British military force which played a controversial role in the Irish War of Independence.

Amid the ongoing pause of Stormont in Northern Ireland, Biden called on the UK and Irish governments to work together to resolve the ongoing stalemate power-sharing situation in Belfast, stating that "peace is precious". He added that he spoke to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar "about how Ireland and the United states can work together with the United Kingdom and the European Union to support the people of Northern Ireland”.

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Joe Biden made a historic address to the Irish Parliament n the final day of his visit. (Credit: Getty Images)Joe Biden made a historic address to the Irish Parliament n the final day of his visit. (Credit: Getty Images)
Joe Biden made a historic address to the Irish Parliament n the final day of his visit. (Credit: Getty Images) | POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Biden said: “I think that the United Kingdom should be working closer with Ireland in this endeavour. Political violence must never be allowed again to take hold on this island.” His words received a thunderous applause from the assembled parliament.

His visit coincided with 25th anniversary celebrations of the Good Friday Agreement. Signed in 1998, the multi-party agreement ended much of the violence seen during the Troubles.

During his address, Biden referenced it directly, saying: “The greatest peace dividend of the Good Friday Agreement is an entire generation of people, an entire generation of young people,” he said.

“Its hearts have been shaped not by grievances of the past, buy by confidence that there’s no checkpoints on your dreams. They’re writing a new future, a future of unlimited possibilities.

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“For too long Ireland was talked about in the past tense. We tell old stories of days gone by, it is good to remember.

"Stories of Irish great geniuses, saints and scholars, poets and politicians. In the face of it, they’re good stories, let’s face it.”

Speaking of the relationship between the US and Ireland, Biden spoke of stories of the ancestors of modern day Americans making the trip from Ireland to Norther America. He said: “These stories are the very heart of what binds Ireland and America together. They speak to a history defined by our dreams, they speak to a present written by our shared responsibilities, and they speak to a future poised for unlimited shared possibilities.

“Today I’d like to reflect on the enduring strength of the connections between Ireland and the United States, a partnership for the ages.”

Following his address at the Irish Parliament, Biden attended a banquet dinner at Dublin Castle. He is due to fly back to the US on Friday (14 April).

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