US president Joe Biden has been welcomed to the Irish parliament as “one of us” on what was described as a “proud and historic day”.
Cheers and applause greeted the American leader as he entered the chamber ahead of his much-anticipated speech on the second day of his four-day visit to the island.
Addressing the invited guests before Mr Biden rose to speak, the Dail speaker said the US president personifies the story of Ireland with its history of emigration.
“It is a day we have looked forward to since your election as the 46th President of the United States just over two years ago.”
He added: “President Biden, today you are amongst friends because you are one of us.
“You often speak of your Irish roots with great pride and affection especially your ancestors from Louth and Mayo. The story of Ireland is inextricably linked to emigration and, in many ways, you personify it.”
Mr O Fearghail described the occasion of the President’s visit as “your homecoming” and paid tribute to him as someone of “unshakeable faith, deep resilience, and the ability to bring people of diverse and often conflicting views together”.
He said Mr Biden’s visit to Northern Ireland earlier in the week had been “an important statement of hope and support for building a better and continued peaceful and prosperous future for all”.
He thanked him for his “unstinting and constructive support for the Good Friday Agreement over the last 25 years and for your continued close engagement which you demonstrated so powerfully this week”.