AFP-Jiji WASHINGTON (AFP-Jiji) — Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny caused a stir at the White House on the eve of Saint Patrick’s Day Friday, pointedly telling President Donald Trump that the festival is in honor of an immigrant.
Before a sea of green-clad revelers in the East Room of the White House Thursday night, Kenny made a pointed reference to controversies over Trump’s immigration policies, as the president looked on.
“It’s fitting that we gather here each year to celebrate St. Patrick and his legacy. He, too, of course, was an immigrant,” Kenny said.
The saint is believed to have been born somewhere in Britain.
“And though he is, of course, the patron saint of Ireland, for many people around the globe, he is also a symbol of, indeed, the patron of immigrants,” Kenny said.
Around 35 million Americans claim Irish ancestry, ensuring that successive presidents have put on a green tie and greeted the Irish prime minister — or Taoiseach — to the White House on or around Saint Patrick’s Day.
Trump praised Ireland as “a truly great country” and the Irish as “tough.” “I know a lot about the Irish — they fight. They’re tough,” he joked.