President Michael D Higgins has congratulated Democrat Joe Biden on his win in the 2020 US presidential election.
The Democrat passed the 270 electoral college votes required to beat US president Donald Trump on Saturday after securing the state of Pennsylvania.
“Today, I have conveyed my best wishes to president-elect Joe Biden, wishing him and the American people every good fortune for his term in office and congratulating him, and congratulating vice-president-elect Kamala Harris on her historic achievement,” said the President in a statement on Saturday.
Mr Higgins said he and his wife, Sabina, had “the warmest memories” of Mr Biden’s two visits to Áras an Uachtaráin.
“The bonds between the peoples of Ireland and the United States are close and strong, and I look forward to our two countries working together to rebuild the much-needed trust in the methods and institutions of national and international solidarity and co-operation.
“That solidarity is indispensable, if we are to address the urgent challenges of our time, including such diverse issues as the need to address the cause and consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, global poverty, hunger, migration and the digitisation of our economies, all issues on which the president-elect has expressed a commitment.
“On behalf of the people of Ireland, I wish president-elect Biden and vice-president-elect Harris every success in the years ahead.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin also congratulated Mr Biden on Saturday, shortly after his victory was confirmed.
“On behalf of the Government and the people of Ireland, I offer warmest congratulations to Joe Biden on his election as the 46th president of the United States,” said Mr Martin in a statement.
“Ireland takes pride in Joe Biden’s election, just as we are proud of all the generations of Irish women and Irish men and their ancestors whose toil and genius have enriched the diversity that powers America,” he said.
“Joe Biden has always been a stalwart friend and supporter of Ireland, including of the prosperity, stability and opportunity made possible by the Good Friday Agreement, to which he has pledged his ongoing steadfast support.
“I also wish to congratulate Kamala Harris on her election as vice-president and recognise the tremendous significance of her election to the role,” said Mr Martin, adding that he was “greatly” looking forward to working with the new administration.
The town of Ballina in Co Mayo, Mr Biden’s ancestral home, is celebrating his election. The town has been decked out in the famous stars and stripes in anticipation of his success.
Ballina local Joe Blewitt, a cousin of Mr Biden, was in no doubt that he would prevail. The election took four days to call as a result of the large number of mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Blewitt had told the PA news agency: “I think we’re all pretty confident that’s he’s going to get across the line. It’s just a pity that it’s dragging out so long.”
Mr Trump has attempted to frustrate the process, calling for vote counting to be stopped and launching a number of lawsuits.
Mr Blewitt said: “Joe Biden is talking about policies, he’s meeting with all the health officials and he’s setting up a plan.
“The other man is still talking about himself. That was always the case with him. It wasn’t about the people, it was about himself.”
Mr Blewitt, a heating and plumbing contractor, was invited to the White House in 2017, when Mr Biden was awarded the congressional medal of honour from then president Barack Obama.
He is hoping he will be able to make it over again for the inauguration next year.
He said: “Hopefully we can go back over in January — if he can remove the other man.”
The pair are in regular contact too, with Mr Blewitt remarking: “They’re sound, they’re good people and he’s a really nice fella. He’s good to talk to.”
The festival atmosphere in Ballina on Saturday was a mark of how much Mr Biden’s victory means to the town.
“He was here when he was vice-president and the hype when he was here the last time was unbelievable. They’re so proud of him.
“Now he’ll be the president of the United States, they’re delighted, they’re absolutely delighted. To think one of their own is one of the most powerful men in the world,” said Mr Blewitt.
Businesses all over the town, many of them closed due to lockdown restrictions, were all decked out in posters and American flags, while locals sipped champagne in celebration. – Additional reporting: PA