Belfast Telegraph

President Obama delivers perfect gift to Kenny

By Lise Hand

It was the best St Patrick's Day present of all. And as the sun streamed in the windows of the world's most famous curved room yesterday morning, President Barack Obama handed it to Enda Kenny, all beautifully wrapped in bright-green ribbon.

Towards the end of their 30-minute meeting, Mr Kenny once again offered the invitation to visit Ireland — the same invitation which had been extended to the US President by his predecessor Brian Cowen when he met Mr Obama in the White House in both 2009 and 2010.

But this time, instead of the standard gracious acceptance and vague promises of consulting diaries, the charismatic leader of the free world laughed and slapped his thigh in amusement.

“I expect that this'll be the big story of the day, because I'm coming in May,” he announced to a gobsmacked Enda Kenny.

What a huge house-warming gift for the new Taoiseach, who only moved into his new office eight days ago. What a badly-needed good news story Barack Obama had given him — and with perfect timing.

It's been a rough few years for Ireland and the battered, humiliated country is in dire need of an occasion to hang out its brightest colours, to borrow a phrase used in the Dail last week when Mr Kenny was elected Taoiseach.

After the meeting, the two men sat side by side in the Oval Office as a large pack of media streamed into the room. And there was an almost casual air about the way the President announced he was on the way — and sooner rather than later.

Belfast Telegraph

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