Belfast Telegraph

Willie McCrea: Joe Biden should apologise for 'orange not welcome' joke

MP calls for apology after Vice President's White House gaffe

By Niall O'Connor

The DUP has called on US Vice President Joe Biden to apologise after a joke about people wearing orange not being welcome in Washington on St Patrick's Day backfired.

DUP MP William McCrea said the 'Veep' should say sorry over the gaffe he made as he welcomed Taoiseach Enda Kenny to a St Patrick's Day breakfast.

"If you're wearing orange, you're not welcome in here... only joking," Mr Biden said to nervous laughter as Mr Kenny and his wife Fionnuala arrived to the event.

Calling for an apology, Mr McCrea said he hadn't found the quip funny, describing it as "disgraceful and careless". He said: "I appreciate the Vice President later said his 'orange' remark was a joke. I don't see it as humorous in the manner it was said."

Later at a White House reception, President Barack Obama acknowledged the "people who do the hard work of waging peace".

He told the crowd that two who were supposed to attend the party were back home hammering out details of a deal - a reference to Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness.

"We wish them good luck and Godspeed so the people of Northern Ireland can finally enjoy the full fruits of a lasting peace."

Earlier, Gerry Adams finally met the State Department after officials postponed a meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday due to the Stormont crisis. While Sinn Fein rejected claims he had been snubbed because the party had withdrawn its support for welfare reform, US officials contradicted this.

"Given the ongoing efforts to reach a durable accord on welfare reform to get implementation of the Stormont House Agreement back on track, we postponed all of Deputy Secretary Blinken's meetings with Northern Ireland officials until such agreement is reached," the department said. It confirmed this included a meeting with Mr Adams.

Yesterday Mr Kenny renewed his calls for the Stormont parties to "sort out" the impasse over welfare reform. He also briefed Mr Obama on the "obstacles" facing the agreement. Mr Obama said: "We had the opportunity to talk about Northern Ireland, and although the recent framework agreement that has been put in place offers great hope for a resolution of some long-standing challenges there, there is still more work to do."

Factfile

Joe Biden is notorious for gaffes. Yesterday, he referred to Enda Kenny's wife as 'Fiona' rather than Fionnuala, and got the name of a WB Yeats poem wrong. In 2010, he suggested then Taoiseach Brian Cowen's mother had died, although she was very much alive.

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