US president Joe Biden broke down in tears on the final day of his Ireland tour after an emotional unplanned meeting with a priest who gave the last rites to his son.
The Parish priest of Knock, Fr Richard Gibbons, said the chaplain who performed the last rites sacrament on Mr Biden’s son, Beau, now works at the Knock shrine in Co Mayo where the president paid a visit on Friday.
Fr Frank O’Grady performed the ceremony for Beau Biden before he died of brain cancer in 2015.
He received a call requesting that he meet the president, and later told RTE that the encounter was “like a reunion”.
“We had a nice chat for about 10 minutes. He was delighted to see me and I was delighted to see him,” he said. “He gave me a big hug, it was like a reunion. He told me he appreciated everything that was done.”
In the evening, Mr Biden received a rock star welcome from crowds in Ballina, County Mayo for his last public engagement of the trip.
Biden meets Varadkar at Ireland’s house of dignitaries
Joe Biden has arrived at Farmleigh House in Dublin’s Phoenix Park on a sunny afternoon in Ireland’s capital.
The president was greeted by Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar on a recently cleaned red carpet outside the entrance to the official Irish state guest house.
“Beautiful day,” the president said as the pair shared a joke while shaking hands in front of a number of cameras.
Irish and US flags were positioned side by side next to the carpet, with a bed of purple flowers situated in front of them.
A small guard of honour greeted the president outside Farmleigh House before he entered the building with Mr Varadkar.
Ireland is graced by your presence, Varadkar tells Biden
Irish premier Leo Varadkar welcomed US president Joe Biden to Farmleigh House with a brief conversation in front of the media ahead of a private meeting.
Mr Varadkar told the president: “It is wonderful to have you back in Ireland and I think the visit has been going extremely well, you very much grace us with your presence and I look forward to the meeting later on.”
Mr Biden told Mr Varadkar it had been great to see him in Washington last month, and said: “I think there really is an opportunity to make serious progress, not just because of the accord that was signed 25 years ago, but in terms of the way Ireland is moving, the way it is taking its place in the world, working on helping countries around the world that are dealing with starvation, the way you’ve welcomed - I know it’s not easy - welcomed Ukrainians here and the leadership you’ve shown.
“I just think it feels so good to be able to have this stronger and stronger relationship between the United States and Ireland, I think our values are the same, and I think our concerns are the same, so I’m really looking forward to continuing to work with you.”
Biden breaks silence on leaked Pentagon documents
President Joe Biden said while he was concerned that sensitive government documents had been leaked, “there’s nothing contemporaneous that I’m aware of that is of great consequence” (Darlene Superville writes).
It was the first time Mr Biden has commented publicly about the release of Pentagon documents that were posted on several social media sites. They appear to detail US and Nato aid to Ukraine and US intelligence assessments regarding US allies that could strain ties with those nations. The Justice Department has opened an investigation.
Mr Biden noted there was a “full-blown” investigation going on with the intelligence community and the Justice Department. “We’re getting close,” he said on answers. “But I don’t have an answer.”
President Joe Biden on Thursday said while he was concerned that sensitive government documents had been leaked, ‘there’s nothing contemporaneous that I’m aware of that is of great consequence’
Joe Biden in touching exchange with An Irish Goodbye star James Martin
US President Joe Biden said he would boast to his daughter about having his photo taken with James Martin, one of the stars of the Oscar-winning short film An Irish Goodbye (Ellie Harrison writes).
The film, which won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film at the ceremony last month, is a black comedy set on a rural farm in Glenmornan, a small hamlet in the west of County Tyrone in Northern Ireland.
It follows the reunion of estranged brothers Turlough (Seamus O’Hara) and Lorcan (Martin) after the death of their mother.
Biden pointed out James Martin in the crowd as he spoke this week at Ulster University in Belfast, during a visit to the country for the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
During a Belfast visit, the president met the lead actor in the Oscar-winning short film
Irish president pleased by Biden’s reception
Irish president Michael D Higgins said he is pleased by the warmth of the welcome US president Joe Biden has received in Ireland.
The pair met at Mr Higgins’ official residence in Dublin on the second day of Mr Biden‘s visit to the Republic of Ireland.
Mr Higgins thanked Mr Biden for his continuing support for the Good Friday Agreement and they discussed the need for continued work to build on and strengthen the peace process in Northern Ireland.
They also discussed the challenges which the Irish diaspora in the US faces, the rights of trade unions, importance of green transition, support for same-sex marriage and LGBT+ rights as well as climate change and global food security.
Biden not anti-British, says Irish PM
Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar has said the strength of the UK-US relationship should never be underestimated, as he rejected claims that Joe Biden is anti-British.
It comes as a Home Office minister insisted Rishi Sunak’s interaction with the US president in Belfast involved “extensive discussions” – while the White House characterised their talks as “broad” and “general”.
The Taoiseach, speaking to reporters in Dublin following a meeting with the US president, rejected any suggestion that Mr Biden was “anti-British”.
“I don’t agree with that assessment, that’s certainly not my experience of President Biden or his administration,” he said.
“They’re very keen to have a strong and special relationship with the United Kingdom and that, of course, goes back to their own history, and also the fact that they fought two world wars, side by side.
“We should never underestimate the strength of the UK/American relationship, and I know that President Biden and his administration are committed to that special relationship, but he is somebody who identifies as Irish-American, who is proudly Irish, and takes an interest in Irish affairs, and his only interest really is to see not just peace sustained in Northern Ireland, but also ... the institutions up and running.
“Because people and politicians come and go, it’s institutions that underline and make sure that democracy and freedom and prosperity last for generations.
“I don’t feel he is pushing any particular agenda other than what he thinks is best for the people of Northern Ireland and the people of Ireland as a whole.”
Biden nearly made ball boy for girls’ Gaelic football match
US president Joe Biden was nearly called upon as a ball boy during a young girls’ Gaelic games demonstration.
Mr Biden stood with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and watched girls from St Brigid’s GAA Club play camogie at Farmleigh House in sunny Dublin on Thursday.
During the demonstration, a sliotar flew past the president, prompting him to quickly turn and almost break into a jog before a young girl ran past him to collect it.
Mr Biden turned back to face the pitch and smiled as the game continued.
Biden arrives at Irish parliament for speech
Joe Biden has arrived at the Irish parliament ahead of an address where he will set out a “shared vision” for the future US-Irish relationship.
Mr Biden will be the fourth US president to address the parliament after Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan and John F Kennedy.
From the Press Association: Silence briefly fell in the Dail chamber as an announcement was made to the gathered politicians and dignitaries.
They were told that Joe Biden had left Phoenix Park and was making his way towards Leinster House, where the parliament sits.
After the announcement, more politicians began to find their seats and the volume lifted as chatter resumed.
Gerry Adams present for Biden’s speech
Former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams is in the Dail for President Joe Biden’s speech on the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
Mr Adams, who negotiated the agreement on the republican side, last week said thousands of lives had been saved by the peace deal.
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