Green tie occasion around the neck, Donald Trump will receive on Thursday a bowl of shamrocks from the hands of the irish Prime minister Leo Varadkar. A tradition that dates back to the 1950s and which offers each year to Ireland for the St. Patrick’s access to the White House without any equivalent for such a small country.
Ireland, as a young nation, is still very discreet on the diplomatic scene when its ambassador to the United States, John Hearne, went to the White House on 17 march 1952 to give Harry Truman a box of shamrocks, the symbols of the island.
No luck, the american president is on vacation in Florida. But the diplomat irish, opinionated, has more success the following year with Dwight Eisenhower, who receives it officially for a couple of minutes to take delivery of the famous clubs and briefly discuss relations between their two countries.
The tradition there has been almost no interruptions until today, the presidents of the United States –all of whom can lay claim to an irish heritage, more or less distant– are paying rather good grace. In Particular, Ronald Reagan.
“He loved St. Patrick’s day (the feast celebrating the patron saint of Ireland)”, explains to the AFP Matthew Costello, historian of the historical Association the White House. “He loved telling irish jokes about his family. A year, it is eclipsed to go to lunch and drink a pint in Alexandria (near Washington) without telling anyone. The bar owner was only notified one hour before the president was coming”.
– Candy Reagan –
Fountain of the White House colored in green (an idea of Michelle Obama), meals, exchanges of good words, the annual visit of the irish Prime minister to Washington is also a good opportunity to joyfully celebrate the special bonds that unite the two countries since massive emigration across the Atlantic in the 19th century Irish fleeing the famine.
But it also offers the Ireland, less than 5 million inhabitants, a platform for diplomatic and no other country of this size may not benefit from the first global power.
The irish managers in particular have made use in the 1990s to plead their cause with Bill Clinton in the delicate negotiations on the peace process in Northern Ireland.
The current “Taoiseach” (irish Prime minister) Leo Varadkar, accompanied this week in the United States of several members of his government and business leaders in the country, should also take advantage of the face-to-face with Donald Trump on Thursday to address several issues of diplomacy, such as the impact of Brexit on Emerald island.
The two men that everything opposes humanly –Mr. Varadkar, 40 years, metis and gay– had mentioned last year during their first encounter, the fate of thousands of Irish living illegally in the United States, before ending the day with the traditional “ceremony of the clovers”.
For security reasons, they “must be destroyed”, note Matthew Costello from the offices of his association, a few steps from the White House.
American presidents, however, can keep the bowl in the crystal in which the clovers are usually presented. Ronald Reagan, says the historian, had found in the stylish container, a utility of the highest importance: to store candy which he was notoriously fond.