Belfast Telegraph

Enda Kenny rejects 'perception' of Irish drinking culture following Tony Abbott's 'patronising' St Patrick's Day message

By Niall O'Connor in Washington DC

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has rejected the "perception" internationally that Irish culture is synonymous with alcohol, as he prepares to celebrate St Patrick's Day with US President Barack Obama.

Mr Kenny said it is "perfectly in order" for Irish people to enjoy the festivities as long as they do so "responsibly".

And the Taoiseach said he disagreed with remarks made by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in relation to Irish people's fondness of alcohol.

Mr Abbott sparked worldwide controversy last week after joking about drinking pints of Guinness during a St Patrick's Day video message to emigrants in Australia.

While holding up his green tie, the politician said St Patrick's Day was about "come to a party" and that it is "one day of the year when it's good to be green".

Mr Abbott, who is known for courting controversy, ended his video message by apologising for not sharing "a Guinness or two, or even three".

He added: "It's a great day for the Irish, and for the English, the Vietnamese, the Cambodians, and everyone else who cares to come to the party."

Speaking in Washington DC this afternoon, the Taoiseach said he rejected Mr Abbott's comments.

"I've heard the Prime Minister's comments. He made them. I don't agree with that. I think that it is perfectly in order for so many Irish people in Australia to have an enjoyable celebration of St Patrick's Day and St Patrick's week, and to do so in a thoroughly responsible fashion," he said.

Mr Kenny added that he rejects the "stage Irish" image of citizens abroad.

“There has been a long-term view of a stage Irish perception. I reject that. I think it’s really important that we understand that we have a national day that can be celebrated worldwide, St Patrick’s Day."

Mr Kenny said he is looking to meeting President Obama in the White House tomorrow, during which he raises issues such as immigration reform and human rights.

Source: Irish Independent

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