Vice President Joe Biden isn’t getting St. Patrick’s Day cheer from Belfast after a joke he made during a holiday event this morning.
Biden welcomed Taoiseach Enda Kenny to the Naval Observatory for the annual Paddy’s Day breakfast, quipping “anyone wearing orange is not welcome in here” while posing for photos on the front porch. Biden then said he was joking.
Orange refers to the Protestants in Northern Ireland, who wear the signature color on marches through Catholic neighborhoods. Biden is Catholic.
At the breakfast featuring eggs, potatoes, and Irish soda bread, Biden later referenced the cross-party talks to resolve strife in Northern Ireland, saying “we need genius on all sides right now to lock this agreement down,” according to the White House pool report. “To finally, finally, finally again bring an end to this dark chapter.”
William McCrea, a Democratic Unionist Party member of Parliament, called on Biden to apologize.
“I don’t see it as humorous in the manner it was said. When Northern Ireland is making such an effort to make St Patrick’s Day an inclusive celebration, Joe Biden’s comments were disgraceful and careless,” McCrea said in a statement released by the DUP.
“Whether they were intended as a joke or not, the comments are a slur on those who would be known as ‘orange’ i.e. Protestants. This term is much wider than anyone who is a member of the Orange Order. It has traditionally been used to define people from the Protestant faith,” he continued. “VP Biden should apologise for his remarks and take corrective action to prove in a practical way that people who are from a Protestant background are welcome in the White House. Undoubtedly if he had made such a remark about any other faith group there would be calls for his resignation.”
Biden has essentially, at one time or another, made remarks about everybody, including offending Jewish groups by calling money lenders “shylocks” last September.