Taoiseach Leo Varadkar begins week-long visit to US

Discussions are expected to cover a broad agenda of issues including the wars in Gaza and Ukraine.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at a bilateral meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House last year
Taoiseach visit to the US Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at a bilateral meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House last year (Niall Carson/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will raise the “concerns of the Irish people on the shocking crisis in Gaza” with US President Joe Biden during a visit to Washington this week.

Mr Varadkar begins a week-long itinerary of engagements in the US on Monday as part of a long-standing tradition where the Irish political leader is invited to the White House to mark St Patrick’s Day.

He will first fly to Boston for a series of political, economic and Irish community engagements, before travelling to Washington DC for the traditional St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

On Friday, the Taoiseach will meet bilaterally with President Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris and the Speaker of the US House of Representatives.

Discussions are expected to cover a broad agenda of issues including the wars in Gaza and Ukraine.

Officials said the leaders will discuss the “deep-ties” between the United States and the Republic as the countries mark 100 years of diplomatic relations.

Mr Varadkar will also thank Mr Biden for the US’s commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and the restoration of the Northern Ireland institutions.

The traditional White House St Patrick’s Day reception, including the shamrock ceremony, will take place on March 17.

Mr Varadkar will present the US president with the traditional shamrock bowl, as an extension of St Patrick’s Day greetings from the people of Ireland to the people of the United States.

At the start of his trip on Monday, Mr Varadkar is to meet with the Governor of the State of Massachusetts, Maura Healy in Boston.

He will also deliver a keynote address at the President John F Kennedy library, reflecting on the life and legacy of Mr Kennedy.

On Tuesday, the Taoiseach is to engage in several economic meetings and a visit to Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox, to announce a major investment by Irish company, Output Sports, which specialises in sports data.

Mr Varadkar will speak at an Ireland Funds Young Leaders event where he will reflect on the Dublin government’s theme for St Patrick’s Day 2024 “Ireland’s future in the world”.

In Washington DC, the Taoiseach’s first engagement on Wednesday will be speaking at the Ireland Funds National Gala Dinner.

On Thursday, Mr Varadkar will attend and speak at a series of events hosted by Enterprise Ireland, the IDA and the US Chamber of Commerce, meeting senior US and Irish executives to “explore how the Ireland-US two-way trade and investment partnership can help create more jobs and growth in both countries.

Mr Varadkar said: “St Patrick’s Day is a moment to reconnect with the 70 million people worldwide of Irish background, and not least the over 30 million in the US of Irish heritage.

As we mark the centenary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ireland and the US, I am looking forward to visiting Boston and Washington to celebrate this strong and enduring relationship.

“My visit will aim to further strengthen the ties that link our two nations with a focus on economic, political and people-to-people connections.

“The government’s theme for St Patrick’s Day 2024 is ‘Ireland’s future in the world’ so this year I wish to celebrate the achievements of our young diaspora leaders in the US across the fields of innovation, creativity, community development, business, and academia.

“Many of the events in both Boston and Washington DC will enable me to recognise their invaluable contribution to sustaining and deepening the close bonds between Ireland and the US, now and into the future.

“My visit is also an opportunity to highlight our strong and growing trade and investment relationship, a relationship that is increasingly balanced and two-way. I look forward to engaging with Irish and US companies working to grow this mutually beneficial relationship.

“I look forward to meeting President Biden again and to reflect on his very successful visit to Ireland last year which highlighted his special connection with our country.

“I will thank him for his strong and ongoing support for Ireland and in particular for the long-standing role played by the US in the Irish peace process, reflecting on the recent positive developments in Northern Ireland.

“My visit to the US comes at a crucial time in global affairs and US leadership is needed more now than ever. I look forward to discussing with President Biden, and leaders on Capitol Hill, our shared commitment to continued support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.

“I will also raise the concerns of the Irish people on the shocking crisis in Gaza, reiterating our call for an immediate and sustainable ceasefire to facilitate a massive increase in the humanitarian aid that can reach desperate people and the immediate and unconditional release of the remaining hostages.

“I will be emphasising that a peaceful and secure future for all people in the region can come only from a two-state solution, with Israel living side-by-side in peace with a fully-fledged State of Palestine.”

In a statement, the White House said the leaders will “reaffirm the close and enduring partnership between the United States and Ireland and the extraordinary bonds between our people”.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: “They will discuss our countries’ shared commitment to continue supporting Ukraine in the face of Russia’s brutal aggression, as well as our coordination on a range of other global issues, including the Middle East.

“They will reaffirm their steadfast support for the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement as we welcome the recent restoration of Northern Ireland’s Executive and Assembly.

“Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff will host the Taoiseach and Mr Matthew Barrett for a breakfast at the Naval Observatory on March 15.”