” I’m a call away.”
So said US President Joe Biden to Taoiseach Micheál Martin towards the end of their 80- minute conversation today.
The huge area of the Atlantic Ocean may have separated the 2 leaders, but this virtual meeting appears to have provided.
The Irish access to the United States political system is exceptional in diplomatic terms when it comes to celebrating legal holidays.
Yet, for the United States President to successfully state – ring me anytime – is a diplomatic win, even from someone so freely proud of his Irish heritage.
Some must have feared that a virtual meeting could result in downgrading of St Patrick’s Day into the future, however the result seems to have been a deepening of ties.
One indicator of that came from the Taoiseach in tonight’s news conference in Dublin when he described their exchanges as “very very favorable”.
Another indication came from the reality that today’s meeting was much longer than previous St Patrick’s Day exchanges.
Along with remembering the “really strong” historical relationship between the 2 nations, the two men rapidly got down to substantive talks – the most important being Covid-19, vaccines and the financial healing.
Mr Martin said President Biden went through “in some detail” his view on the crisis, adding he ” is very anxious to get his people immunized as rapidly as he possibly can”.
The conference clarified that it will be the summer season prior to the US has a clear understanding of how its own vaccination programme is advancing and, for that reason, its capability to assist other countries after that point.
Mr Martin didn’t straight respond to questions this evening about whether he sought to get United States vaccines exported to Ireland, but he did say that there was no “stockpile” in the nation.
If the US runs out the image for now, that might explain why Mr Martin called for what he termed a “correct engagement” in between the EU and the UK on AstraZeneca, stating that he didn’t like talk of blocking vaccines when supply lines needed to be kept open.
A key objective, from the Irish side, was to bring-up Brexit and the recent EU-UK row over the Northern Ireland protocol.
The Irish Government will be thrilled that, as the Taoiseach said, President Biden repeated his “strong dedication” to the Great Friday Arrangement as well as his willpower to guarantee there is no go back to the borders of the past
In a joint statement later on, the 2 leaders called for “the good faith execution of global agreements designed to resolve the distinct scenarios on the island of Ireland.”
That’s specifically what the Taoiseach would have wanted.
Ireland’s existing seat on the UN Security Council was likewise discussed consisting of protecting humanitarian access to Syria; climate security; and of specific interest to the US – getting help into war wrecked Tigray region of Ethiopia, a country Ireland has strong links with.
Both men too are clearly bent on going to each other.
The Taoiseach stated tonight: “The President was really nervous that I would get to the United States at some stage, which we would meet-up in person.”
For his part, the US President said his household wouldn’t forgive him if he didn’t visit Ireland throughout his term in office.
Behind the scenes, the Irish Cabinet was likewise busy holding virtual meetings – for instance, the Financing Minister Paschal Donohoe held one with the United States Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen.
Nevertheless the Taoiseach-President meeting is constantly going to garner most attention – doubly so when the resident of the White Home is so Irish.
In his public remarks this afternoon, he regaled the Taoiseach with a story of his relative Ambrose Finnegan, from the Louth side of his origins, who would state to him whenever he left your home: “Keep in mind – the very best drop of blood in you is Irish.”
President Biden’s deep love for Ireland is clear and it’s something which might be of substantial advantage to the “the old country”.