Joe Biden set to stopover in Ireland in June

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Joe Biden, © AP/Press Association Images
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James Cox

Incoming US President Joe Biden is set to make a stopover at Shannon Airport on his way to England for the G7 summit in June.

This would mark the first time Mr Biden, whose inauguration takes place tomorrow, would set foot on Irish soil as president.

The president-elect has strong Irish family roots in Co Mayo and Co Louth and has made many visits to Ireland.

Sources said Mr Biden's plane will stop in Ireland to refuel, more than likely on the way to Cornwall but possibly on the way back.

Paul Allen of the Irish For Biden campaign told BreakingNews.ie that sources in Washington have told him Mr Biden is expected to make a stopover at Shannon Airport.

“The G7 summit is taking place in a tiny village in Cornwall on June 11th, and my insiders in the Biden camp have led me to believe that they will stop off in Shannon Airport and refuel there before heading over to England, or may pop in on the way back,” Mr Allen said.

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The three-day event will see world leaders meet in the seaside resort of Carbis Bay in Cornwall and Mr Biden is due to attend.

Shannon stopover

He added: “As one insider told me last night, it's his intention to get to Ireland as soon as possible, so coming in before the G7 to refuel would allow him to do that.

“He's had many private visits to Ireland, they've come into Shannon before and got a car to drive them to Ballina or Carlingford."

Mr Allen's PR firm was hired by Louth County Council to organise the visit of Biden, then US vice-president, in 2016, having previously worked on the presidential visits of Clinton and Obama.

Mr Biden's roots in Mayo can be traced back to his great, great, great grandfather, Edward Blewitt, who left Mayo for the United States during the famine.

There was a celebratory mood in the town after his November election victory and nobody was prouder than his Irish cousins Joe and Laurita Blewitt.

Ms Blewitt told the BBC: “So obviously being related to President-Elect Biden is just incredible. It's lovely that they can still track down the area where his ancestors lived. He talks about it so much, his mum reminded him of it, his grandmother reminded him of it and they brought him up with very strong Irish values.”

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Joe Blewitt, a cousin of US President-Elect Joe Biden, and his wife Deirdre celebrating the results of the US presidential election.

Joe and Laurita met Mr Biden on his visits to Ireland in 2016 and 2017, and Ms Blewitt revealed that he promised to one day return to Ballina “as president”.

Mr Biden's Irish relations had planned to travel to Washington for the inauguration, but Joe told the Western People that this won't be possible due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however they plan to celebrate at home.

He said: “It’s just a shame that because of Covid we won’t be able to show off Ballina to the world again.”

Louth celebrations

Celebrations in Co Louth have also been cancelled, but Mr Allen said there will be a symbolic gesture to mark the occasion.

“Joan Martin, the chief executive of Louth County Council, has arranged for the Irish and American flags to fly high over the town hall and a water feature in Dundalk will have the American colours projected onto it tomorrow so that's an exciting moment.

“I had a ticket for the inauguration but obviously I'm here because of Covid.”

There will still be an Irish flavour to tomorrow's inauguration though with Irish concert violinist Patricia Treacy set to perform.

Mr Allen also revealed sources have told him Mr Biden's Irish roots will feature in his speech.

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“Joe Biden is more Irish than even JFK, the potential for Ireland is enormous.

“His speech tomorrow I understand will have references to aspects of Irish life along with coping with the sadness of losing his first wife and son Beau, who passed away from cancer aged 46, there will be a lot of Catholic references in his speech, his belief in his religion and the grief that he suffered will power him on.”

The Irish For Biden campaign encouraged people to phone Irish American relatives in the States and ask them to vote for Mr Biden.

It didn't go unnoticed as Mr Allen revealed they received a call from the President-Elect before his November 3rd election win.

Paul Allen at the launch of the Irish For Biden campaign.

“We got a phonecall in the middle of it from Biden and he was thrilled to hear what was going on. People in Carlingford also got phone calls to say thanks for helping the Blue Wave.

Irish American votes

“Irish America was certainly a big thing for winning votes in certain areas. Call a cousin, ring a relative, phone a friend, we hope it empowered Irish America to make the right decision.

“Back in 2016 when we arranged his visit to Carlingford I asked if he'd ever think of running, he kind of winked at me and walked away, it's a remarkable time.”

Mr Biden's Irish roots go beyond family at home and references in tomorrow's inauguration speech as many of his trusted advisors and Cabinet members have strong Irish American roots.

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This includes White House deputy chief of staff Jenn O'Malley Dillon, national security advisor Jake Sullivan and senior advisor John McCarthy.

Mr Biden's nomination for labour secretary is Marty Walsh, an Irish speaker whose parents are from Connemara.

While Mr Biden's stopover in Shannon is likely to be brief, it's safe to say we can expect an official state visit once the Covid-19 situation allows for it.

 

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