Europe

Joe Biden: US Vice President welcomed 'home' with Irish gift

Mr Biden was presented with an engraved hurl and sliotar - the stick and ball used in the Irish sport of hurling Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Mr Biden was presented with an engraved hurl and sliotar - the stick and ball used in the Irish sport of hurling

US Vice President Joe Biden has been welcomed "home" to the Republic of Ireland by the Irish prime minister as he began a six-day visit to the state.

Mr Biden, who has Irish roots, arrived in Dublin with several members of his family on Tuesday evening for a trip that is both political and personal.

Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Enda Kenny greeted Mr Biden at a formal reception at Government Buildings.

He presented his guest with a gift used in Gaelic Athletic Association games.

'Dangerous game'

Mr Kenny gave Mr Biden a hurl and a sliotar - the stick and ball used in the Irish sport of hurling.

He told the vice president: "This is for you, your name is on it - Joseph O'Biden.

"Number eight - you're playing midfield."

Accepting his present, Mr Biden said: "I've only witnessed one game and I've one regret - they don't have the sport in the United States.

"I've played American football and American baseball in high school and college but this would have been... this is a dangerous game."

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Enda Kenny formally greeted US Vice President Joe Biden at Government Buildings in Dublin

Mr Biden also told reporters he had wanted to visit the land of his ancestors for years.

'You need me'

"Six years ago, I said 'the president has me going all around the world'. I've travelled over 1,200,000 miles as his vice president, visiting every part of the world.

"And I've told the taoiseach we would come so many times," Mr Biden said.

"We've had St Patrick's Day breakfast in my home, he's been coming over to the capital for the last five, six years.

"I said 'do me a favour taoiseach - Enda - tell the president you need me in Ireland'."

Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption Mr Biden met Irish President Michael D Higgins at his official residence, Áras an Uachtaráin (the president's house), and signed the visitors' book

On Wednesday, Mr Biden met Irish President Michael D Higgins at his official residence, Áras an Uachtaráin (the president's house) in Dublin's Phoenix Park.

NI peace process

As the guest signed the visitors' book, he paraphrased another famous Irish-American, former US President John F Kennedy, who visited the Republic of Ireland 53 years ago this month.

Mr Biden's written entry made reference to a speech made to the Dáil (Irish Parliament) in June 1963, when Mr Kennedy said "our two nations, divided by distance, have been united by history".

Image copyright Áras an Uachtaráin
Image caption Áras an Uachtaráin's (Irish President's House) official Twitter account shared a photo of Mr Biden's entry in the visitors' book

Mr Higgins and Mr Biden then held a bilateral meeting during which they discussed "Irish, European and current global affairs".

In a statement, the Irish president said they talked about "the current issues facing the European Union and the current position in relation to the peace process in Northern Ireland".

Mr Higgins said he had also "commended Vice President Biden's work on the elimination of all forms of violence against women".

The American guest is due to arrive in County Mayo later on Wednesday, where some of his ancestors hailed from before they emigrated to the US.

The vice president is accompanied by his daughter, five grandchildren, his sister and his brother, according to state broadcaster RTÉ.

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