WASHINGTON—House Speaker John Boehner hosted President Barack Obama and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny at the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
It’s a tradition that began in 1981 through the joint efforts of House Speaker Tip O’Neill, Sen. Ted Kennedy and President Ronald Reagan. The annual event is sponsored by the Speaker and the Friends of Ireland Caucus, a bipartisan congressional group originally founded to support peace initiatives in Northern Ireland.
This year Obama, Kenny and members of Congress were treated to entertainment from Irish Tenor Anthony Kearns.
After the meal, Obama, Kenny, Boehner and Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., were escorted to the South Capitol steps by a piper. All four wore green ties and had shamrocks on their lapels.
Obama had no complaints about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day for yet another day. Earlier Tuesday in the Oval Office he expressed his commitment to the bond between Ireland and the United States.
“This year, it also gives us an excuse to stretch out St. Patrick’s Day for a couple of extra days, which is always good,” Obama said.
Prime Minister Kenny, who has now visited the Oval Office five times, also extended an invitation to Obama to return to Ireland.
“And maybe the next time, when our economies are moving in a more positive direction, we might actually have time to take out the sticks on the golf course,” Taoiseach Kenny said.