Belfast Telegraph

Obama unlikely to visit Northern Ireland, says Robinson

By Jim Dee

The chances of a US Presidential visit to Northern Ireland in May look slim, according to the First Minister.

Although the exact details of Barack Obama’s planned visit to the Republic have yet to be finalised, Peter Robinson was pessimistic last night about a border crossing.

Mr Robinson issued a joint invitation with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to President Obama to visit Northern Ireland during an Oval Office meeting yesterday.

However, he told the Belfast Telegraph last night: “I’m not sure whether, logistically, he can do that. But the invitation is there at any time for him.

“As I understand it, when he goes to the UK, most of his time is going to be spent around the London area.

“So it may not be possible for him to get out.

“But he certainly has indicated that he intends to visit Northern Ireland, whether it’s on this occasion or another occasion.”

Making his surprise announcement during a photo opportunity with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Mr Obama said he looked forward to visiting the land from which his great-great-great-great grandfather emigrated.

Shoemaker’s son Fulmuth Kearney left Moneygall, Co Offaly, for New York in 1850. He later moved to Ohio.

Although no exact date has been set for Mr Obama’s Irish sojourn, it’s likely to dovetail with his state visit to Britain from May 24-26.

The First Minister said he and Mr McGuinness discussed a range of issues with Mr Obama, including the global economic situation, Northern Ireland’s economy, and events in Japan.

The President, said Mr Robinson, was very well-briefed on Northern Ireland.

“He clearly was in control, had read the issues very well, had facts and figures that could only come from having read a detailed brief,” said the DUP leader.

“He was very supportive of the work that we’ve done and the progress that we’ve made.”

What now?

Barack Obama will visit his ancestral home of Moneygall in Co Offaly, but provided no other details of his plans.

A visit to Dublin is expected, including a courtesy call on President Mary McAleese, with the possibility of an address to the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Mr Obama will then be in England from Tuesday, May 24 to Thursday, May 26

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