The Taoiseach has praised women who have “written history” during his meeting with vice-president of the United States, Kamala Harris.
Meeting virtually with Ms Harris to mark St Patrick’s Day, Micheál Martin first expressed his condolences to the American people following mass shootings in Atlanta which saw eight people killed.
Ms Harris described the incident as “tragic”, adding she and President Joe Biden grieve for those lost.
In his opening remarks, Mr Martin spoke of Ireland’s first woman president Mary Robinson, after Ms Harris became the first woman elected to the role of US vice-president.
“In November 1990, thirty years to the day before your recent election, Ireland elected our first woman President, Mary Robinson,” he said.
“In her inauguration speech, she famously remarked that she had been elected by the women of Ireland who instead of rocking the cradle, rocked the system.
“And, setting out her vision for the office, she quoted her friend, the brilliant Irish poet and Stanford Professor, Eavan Boland, observing that she was determined to write women who had been outside history back into it.”
Mr Martin said Ms Harris’ recent election alongside President Joe Biden had “written history at many levels.”
“As you have said, you may be the first woman in your role, but you will not be the last,” he added.
Mr Martin expressed his wish for Ms Harris to visit Ireland during her time as vice-president.
He recalled Irish immigrants to America who had “helped build” her home state of California, including Kate Kennedy of Meath.
Ms Kennedy led the “equal pay for equal work” campaign of 1874 which successfully lobbied the California legislature to provide female teachers the same pay as their male counterparts, Mr Martin said.
The Irish Times reports that Ms Harris said she looked forward to hosting the Taoiseach in person next year and that the relationship between Ireland and the US remained “steadfast and strong”.
She spoke of her regret that they were not able to meet in person for the traditional annual shamrock presentation and expressed hope that next year they will “share a good breakfast together”.
“On behalf of the president I would like to thank Ireland for advancing our shard values as a member of the UN Security Council and thank you for our robust economic partnership,” said Ms Harris.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Martin held a virtual meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi where the Belfast Agreement, immigration and efforts to secure access for Irish people to the E3 visa were discussed.
Mr Martin will shortly meet with President Biden, who spent the night at his home in Delaware and attended Mass to mark St Patrick’s Day at his local church this morning before flying back to Washington ahead of his lunchtime meeting with the Taoiseach.
The North is expected to top the agenda of today’s virtual meeting between Mr Martin and Mr Biden, amid ongoing interest in Washington about the impact of Brexit on the North.