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article imageU.S. vice president begins official visit to Ireland

By AFP     Jun 21, 2016 in World

United States Vice-President Joe Biden arrived in Dublin on Tuesday evening for a six-day official visit to Ireland that will include tours of the birthplaces of his ancestors and meetings with local leaders.

Biden's trip, scheduled to last until Sunday, will emphasise the shared heritage between the two nations, including the values of tolerance, diversity and inclusivity, according to a US government statement.

He is set to meet with Ireland's prime minister Enda Kenny and President Michael D. Higgins.

Biden has often cited his Irish roots as an inspiration.

His great-grandfather, James Finnegan, emigrated from Co. Louth as a child in 1850. All of his great-great-grandparents on his mother's side were born in Ireland as well as two great-grandparents on his father's side.

"My grandfather and grandmother Finnegan, all my mother's brothers, and my father told us about the courage and commitment it took for our relatives to emigrate from Ireland in the midst of tragedy to distant shores, where they didn't know what awaited them," he told Irish broadcaster RTE in a recent interview.

He said the trip meant "a great deal" as he had originally planned to come with his son Beau, who died of cancer last year aged just 46.

Biden is expected to use the trip to criticise US Republican presidential hopeful Trump's anti-immigration stance.

Coincidentally, Trump was scheduled to visit his golf course at Doonbeg in Ireland during Biden's visit, but it remains unclear if this will now happen.

Prior to leaving for Ireland, Biden attacked Trump's speeches, telling RTE that "we are a nation of immigrants and throughout our past we have seen people spouting the same kind of hateful rhetoric."

Biden will meet Kenny at Government Buildings in central Dublin on Tuesday night. He will stay for most of his visit at the American ambassador's residence in the Phoenix Park and will meet President Higgins on Wednesday.

His itinerary also includes an overnight stay in Mayo and a day trip to Louth as he traces his roots in both counties.

On Friday he will deliver speeches at Trinity College and Dublin Castle.

It certainly won't be all work and no play, though.

Biden's official itinerary will include a round of golf with Kenny in Co. Mayo, the Fine Gael party leader's birthplace.

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