herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

Enda Kenny rejects 'perception' of Irish alcohol culture

Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Washington yesterday. Photo: Marty Katz
Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Washington yesterday. Photo: Marty Katz

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has rejected the "perception" internationally that Irish culture is synonymous with alcohol as he prepares to celebrate St Patrick's Day in the company of US President Barack Obama.

Mr Kenny said it is "perfectly in order" for Irish people to enjoy the festivities as long as they do so "responsibly".

And the Taoiseach said he disagreed with remarks made by Australian prime minister Tony Abbott in relation to Irish people's fondness of alcohol.

Mr Abbott sparked worldwide controversy last week after joking about drinking pints of Guinness during a St Patrick's Day video message to emigrants in Australia.

While holding up his green tie, the politician said St Patrick's Day was about "come to a party" and that it is "one day of the year when it's good to be green".

Mr Abbott, who is known for courting controversy, ended his video message by apologising for not sharing "a Guinness or two, or even three".

He added: "It's a great day for the Irish, and for the English, the Vietnamese, the Cambodians, and everyone else who cares to come to the party."

Speaking in Washington, the Taoiseach said he rejected Mr Abbott's comments.

"I've heard the prime minister's comments. He made them. I don't agree with that. I think that it is perfectly in order for so many Irish people in Australia to have an enjoyable celebration of St Patrick's Day and St Patrick's week, and to do so in a thoroughly responsible fashion," he said.

Mr Kenny added that he rejects the "stage Irish" image of citizens abroad.

"There has been a long-term view of a stage Irish perception. I reject that. I think it's really important that we understand that we have a national day that can be celebrated worldwide, St Patrick's Day."

Mr Kenny made the remarks as he prepares to meet President Obama and Michelle in the White House today.

Separately, Mr Kenny warned that the October Budget will not be one full of "giveaways". He told reporters in the US capital that the budget must involve "buffers" to defend Ireland from adverse future international factors.

noconnor@herald.ie

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