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Global praise for Enda Kenny's Donald Trump speech: 'St Patrick was an immigrant'

'Four decades before Lady Liberty lifted her lamp we were the wretched refuse on the teeming shore'

By Catherine Devine

Enda Kenny's speech on immigration has received global recognition for 'lecturing' US president Donald Trump on immigration.

The Taoiseach used the St Patrick's day visit to speak about the contribution of the Irish community in the United States, leading to the New York Times calling it a “lecture” for the US President on immigration.

Speaking at a party in East Room of the White House, he thanked Mr Trump for “giving so much of his time” to help celebrate St Patrick’s legacy as “the patron of immigrants”.

He appealed to the President to take a more favourable view of immigrants - but made no mention of Mr Trump’s controversial travel ban on six predominantly Muslim countries.

“Ireland came to America, because deprived of liberty, opportunity, safety and even food itself, we believed.

“Four decades before Lady Liberty lifted her lamp we were the wretched refuse on the teeming shore,” Mr Kenny said.

“We believed in the shelter of America, in the compassion of America, in the opportunity of America. We came and became Americans.

“We lived the words of JFK long before he uttered them – we asked not what America could do for us but what we could do for America. And we still do.

“We want to give and not to take,” he told a room full of invited guests.

US media in particular were quick to praise the Taoiseach with the The New York Times saying: “Irish Premier uses St Patrick’s Day Ritual to Lecture Trump on Immigration”.

US President Donald Trump (left) and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny hold a bowl of Shamrock during the St Patrick's Day Reception and Shamrock Presentation Ceremony, at the White House in Washington DC, USA.
US President Donald Trump (left) and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny hold a bowl of Shamrock during the St Patrick's Day Reception and Shamrock Presentation Ceremony, at the White House in Washington DC, USA.
Enda Kenny addresses staff at Bloomberg headquarters in New York
Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny (left) takes part in the St Patrick's Day parade in New York, USA. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 17, 2017. See PA story IRISH Kenny. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd L), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) (L), Irish Taoisech Enda Kenny (3rd L) and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) (R) pose for photographers outside the Capitol after the annual Friends of Ireland luncheon March 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Taoisech Kenny is in Washington to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 16: (L to R) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny march in the annual St. Patrick's Day parade on 5th Avenue, March 17, 2017 in New York City. The New York City St. Patrick's Day parade, dating back to 1762, is the world's largest St. Patrick's Day celebration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: U.S. President Donald Trump (C) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) leave the House side of the Capitol after the annual Friends of Ireland luncheon March 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Irish Taoisech Enda Kenny is in Washington to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: U.S. President Donald Trump (C), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) (L) and Irish Taoisech Enda Kenny pose for photographers outside the Capitol after the annual Friends of Ireland luncheon March 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Taoisech Kenny is in Washington to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Irish Taoisech Enda Kenny (R) shake hands outside the Capitol after the annual Friends of Ireland luncheon March 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Taoisech Kenny is in Washington to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 16: (L to R) Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny speak with each other during the annual St. Patrick's Day parade on 5th Avenue, March 17, 2017 in New York City. The New York City St. Patrick's Day parade, dating back to 1762, is the world's largest St. Patrick's Day celebration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd L) confers with U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (L) (R-WI) following a luncheon celebrating St. Patrick's Day at the U.S. Capitol on March 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Ryan and Trump continue efforts to find support in both the House and Senate for the American Health Care Act. Also pictured are U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (2nd R) and Rep. Peter King (R) (R-NY). (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd L) confers with U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (L) (R-WI) following a luncheon celebrating St. Patrick's Day at the U.S. Capitol on March 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Ryan and Trump continue efforts to find support in both the House and Senate for the American Health Care Act. Also pictured are U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (2nd R) and Rep. Peter King (R) (R-NY). (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny acknowledge the press outside the West Wing of the White House March 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Kenny and Trump are scheduled to attend the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: The vehicle carrying Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrives at the White House before Kenny meets with U.S. President Donald Trump March 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Kenny and Trump are scheduled to attend the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald J. Trump (R) holds a bilateral meeting with the Taoiseach of Ireland Enda Kenny in the Oval Office of the White House on March 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Kenny is in town to celebrate St. Patricks Day. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: U.S. President Donald Trump awaits the arrival of Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny outside the West Wing of the White House March 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Kenny and Trump are scheduled to attend the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) greets Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny outside the West Wing of the White House March 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Kinny and Trump are scheduled to attend the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald J. Trump (L) holds a bilateral meeting with the Taoiseach of Ireland Enda Kenny (not pictured) in the Oval Office of the White House on March 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Kenny is in town to celebrate St. Patricks Day. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) greets Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny outside the West Wing of the White House March 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Kinny and Trump are scheduled to attend the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with the Taoiseach of Ireland Enda Kenny (L) during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, March 16, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEBSAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump meets with the Taoiseach of Ireland Enda Kenny (L) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on March 16, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEBSAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny meet for talks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, USA. Niall Carson/PA Wire
US President Donald Trump welcomes Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny to the White House in Washington USA. Niall Carson/PA Wire
US President Donald Trump welcomes Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny to the White House in Washington USA. Niall Carson/PA Wire
US President Donald Trump and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny meet for talks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, USA. Niall Carson/PA Wire
US President Donald Trump and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny meet for talks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, USA. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Enda Kenny and Mike Pence at the Ireland Funds Gala Dinner in Washington on the fourth day of the Taoiseach's visit to the US

The article reads: "Mr. Trump found himself in a roomful of kelly-green-clad lawmakers in the Capitol for the Friends of Ireland luncheon, being lectured by Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister, or taoiseach (pronounced THEE-shakh), about the virtues of America’s immigrant legacy and the contributions that immigrants had made to the country."

The Boston Globe also ran an article under the headline: “Ireland’s leader pushes Trump to help Irish living in US illegally.”

Fox News praised the Taoiseach with the headline: "Ireland's leader pushes Trump on illegal Irish immigrants."

The article reads: "Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is urging President Donald Trump to help Irish people living in the U.S. illegally, saying they just want to "make America great."

Fox News also praised the Taoiseach's humour saying: "Speaking after Trump at the luncheon, Kenny showed off his country's famed wit, saying that he "just saw the president of the United States read from his script."

Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams, said Enda Kenny was "on the button" when he appealed to President Donald Trump to support the Irish undocumented.

The republican, who was a guest at Speaker Paul Ryan's St Patrick's lunch along with Mr Kenny and Mr Trump, said the challenge was to turn words into action.

"The Taoiseach's remarks were on the button," he said.

"We now need to build upon that.

"The St Patrick's festival here in the US is a great period of celebration of Irishness and it's very important."

Businessman and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg praised Mr Kenny for urging Donald Trump to help the US's undocumented immigrants.

"It was great to see him raise the issue of undocumented immigrants when he was at the White House yesterday - thank you for that," he said.

"This is a country that has benefited from immigrants. Without immigrants we wouldn't have a country and immigrants from Ireland have played a very important part and a number of different waves of Irish immigrants coming here and really contributing to our society.

"They contribute to our cuisine and to our culture, to our economy and to our wellbeing and happiness, and I think it's fair to say without the Irish, New York City would not be anything as great as it is today.

"America became a global powerhouse because we welcomed immigrants and to remain a global powerhouse we really do in this country have to continue to welcome immigrants and give them a chance to play their part in our country's future.

"And that's really what celebrating St Patrick's Day is all about."

Mr Kenny told the event he hoped progress could be made on the issue with the new US administration.

With reporting from Press Association

Irish Independent

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