President Biden is addressing the Irish Parliament on Thursday after meeting with the Irish President Michael Higgins in Dublin, kicking off a leg of his trip to the island aimed at strengthening ties between the U.S. and Ireland while allowing him to explore his Irish ancestry.
Mr. Biden’s visit to the Republic of Ireland comes after he traveled to Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., to mark 25 years since the signing of the Good Friday agreement, a breakthrough that put an end to decades of violence.
On Thursday, Mr. Biden signed the guestbook inside the Irish president’s residence, taking time to write a note. The U.S. president turned to Higgins after he finished writing and quoted his grandfather. “Your feet will bring you to where your heart is,” Mr. Biden said, adding that it’s an “honor to return and to come home to the home of my ancestors.”
The Good Friday Agreement encouraged both sides of the conflict to lay down arms and set up a local government for Northern Ireland, sharing power between republicans and unionists. But his visit comes as tensions are running high, with trade issues after Brexit creating political fissures that prompted British unionist politicians to withdraw from a power-sharing government last year. Despite the signing of a new trade deal between the U.K. and the EU last month, Northern Irish unionists are refusing to return to the government.
The president’s trip to Ireland also comes amid international fallout over the apparent leak of classified Pentagon documents online. The president took his first questions on the subject Thursday, saying he’s “concerned that it happened.”
“I’m not concerned about the leak because — I’m concerned that it happened, but there’s nothing contemporaneous that I’m aware of that is of great consequence,” Mr. Biden said.
Photos of pages of paper documents have appeared on social media, and some of the materials contain details from daily updates provided to senior leaders at the Pentagon about operations in Ukraine, as well as other intelligence updates, according to a Pentagon official. The Biden administration is not publicly confirming the veracity of any of the documents.
The U.S. president has long touted his Irish heritage, and the White House has made a point of hosting elaborate celebrations on St. Patrick’s Day. Mr. Biden hosted Irish Prime Minister Leo Eric Varadkar at the White House for St. Patrick’s Day last month, complete with a performance by Niall Horan of One Direction.
Mr. Biden is the eighth sitting U.S. president to visit Ireland. John F. Kennedy, the first Irish-Catholic president, was the first sitting U.S. president to visit. Mr. Biden’s sister, Valerie, and his adult son, Hunter, are traveling with the president.
On Friday, the president is set to travel to County Mayo, where his great-great-great grandfather was born in the 1840s. He is set to visit a sanctuary and genealogical center before delivering remarks at a cathedral, according to the White House.
How to watch Biden’s address to the Irish Parliament
- What: President Biden addresses the Irish House of Parliament
- Date: April 13, 2023
- Time: 10:45 a.m. ET
- Location: Irish House of Parliament in Dublin
- Online stream: Live on CBS News in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device.
Haley Ott contributed to this report.