The White House will continue its tradition of shamrocking out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but the festivities this year come with a bit of an asterisk.
President Trump will throw the annual reception Thursday for Irish Americans, at which the Irish taoiseach (prime minister), Enda Kenny, will hand the president a bowl of shamrocks in a rite that’s been a staple of the holiday since President Harry S. Truman’s administration. No doubt, there will be plenty of toasts and green neckties, and Erin go Bragh jokes — remember former president Barack Obama temporarily changing the spelling of his surname to O’Bama? (Another question: Will the Trumps continue the Obamas’ addition of emerald-hued dye to the White House’s fountains?)
But the mythically lucky greenery is not the only thing Kenny plans to give Trump — he’s also planning to deliver a message about immigration. The Irish leader says he’ll use the visit not just to throw back some corned beef and cabbage with U.S. allies — he’s planning to “renew the strong case on behalf of the hard-working, taxpaying Irish people in the United States who for too long now have been living in the shadows, and want nothing more than to continue making their contribution to this great country,” the Irish Times reports.
Kenny’s appearance comes despite pressure to skip the annual White House shindig, including from former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, who launched an online petition urging the taoiseach and Irish American members of Congress to boycott the event in protest of Trump’s immigration policies.
Other Washington St. Patrick’s traditions will continue, too, including the annual Speaker’s Lunch on Capitol Hill, hosted by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who boasts Irish ancestry, and the Ireland Fund’s dinner Wednesday night, which will feature Vice President Pence as its keynote speaker.