Category: Archive

Walsh now urging Bush to make Ireland visit

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

New York State Rep. James Walsh wants President Bush to travel to Ireland as soon as possible.

“I would strongly encourage the president to go,” Walsh, chairman of the Friends of Ireland group in Congress, said last week.

Walsh himself is this week in Ireland at the head of a bipartisan congressional delegation that is visiting both Dublin and Belfast.

Before traveling to Ireland, Walsh said that a presidential visit to Ireland, north and south, would serve to remind all in Ireland, and both the Irish and British governments, that the United States was still focused on the peace process and its institutions.

Walsh, a Republican from Syracuse, said that a visit by Bush would also have a positive domestic impact for GOP candidates in the context of midterm elections in November.

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“It would serve [the president] well and would be well received by voters,” he said. “In domestic terms such a trip would be a grand slam home run.”

Walsh’s pitch for a presidential landing in Ireland follows a similar appeal by former Boston mayor and ambassador to the Vatican, Ray Flynn.

The congressional delegation’s visit to Ireland is linked to the Irish and American interparliamentary group.

In some years, Irish legislators travel to the U.S. This year it was the turn of the U.S. members to visit Ireland.

The U.S. legislators exchange views with their counterparts in Dublin on a wide range of issues. It has also been the practice of the U.S. legislators to incorporate a visit to Northern Ireland.

It’s an important reminder that we, both Democrats and Republicans, are deeply interested in what’s going on in Ireland,” Walsh said.

Walsh is co-chairman of the interparliamentary group along with Rep. Ben Gilman. Gilman did not travel to Ireland with the congressional delegation because he is currently locked in a political and legal battle to preserve his congressional district in the face of a post-census redistricting plan.

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