The world is watching the United States on election day in what is considered the most important presidential battle in decades.
Plenty of people have argued that a Joe Biden victory would be the best outcome for the world as well as the US.
A win for Donald Trump’s rival would also be a good result for Ireland, as he has strong ties to this island.
This is a claim made by plenty of presidents, with Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama all playing on Irish family connections.
However, Biden would be the first genuine Irish American US president since John F Kennedy.
Ahead of the US election, Paul Allen of the Irish For Biden campaign spoke to BreakingNews.ie about the Democratic contender’s Irish roots.
Mr Allen’s PR firm was hired by Louth County Council to organise the visit of Biden, then US vice-president, in 2016, having previously worked on the presidential visits of Clinton and Obama.
Behind me Biden shouts, ‘we’re in heaven, man!
The Cooley Peninsula in Co Louth is the ancestral home of the Biden family and Mr Allen said he was “blown away” by the area.
“One of the best moments was when one of the secret service agents said to me, ‘where the hell are we?’, as we got out of the car in this kind of narrow, boreen place.
“Behind me Biden shouts, ‘we’re in heaven, man!’ He was blown away by the place. Anyone who visits Carlingford can’t help but be taken with the natural beauty of the place.”
Having been involved in the Ireland for Hillary campaign in 2016, Mr Allen decided to set up an independent Irish for Biden campaign.
It encouraged people to contact Irish American family and relatives in the US to encourage them to vote for Biden.
“We asked people to phone a friend, or a relative and it managed to capture the imagination. People in Carlingford and Dundalk loved the idea, they supported it and we launched it in October.
“We created graphics, posters, and hooked onto the idea that 30 million Americans claim Irish heritage so we were sending out briefing notes to ring a relative.
“Calls are obviously expense so top and tail, ‘how’s the family? We need a favour, any chance of voting for Joe Biden?’
“Many Irish Americans are familiar with his Catholic background and ethos and that struck home with a lot of people.
“We were looking to energise the community, while moments like this are great fun for us it’s very serious business for America and for the world.”
He added: “One person would ring three, three would ring nine and so on and so on. One thing about lockdown is people were at home and looking to call people anyway so it literally just took off. We tried to home in on certain areas but we made calls right across America.
“Let’s face it, the quintessential Irish American is the police man in Boston, the firefighter in New York, the nurse in Chicago, the construction workers having to rebuild America. They’re the quintessential Irish Americans.
“We were amplifying Joe’s Irishness, a lot of people didn’t really know about that. He was very proud of his Irish background and links.”
“All eight of Joe’s great great-grandparents on his mother’s side were born in Ireland in the early 1800s. Two of his great-grandparents on his father’s side were also born in Ireland,” Mr Allen explained. “In total, 10 of Joe’s 16 great great-grandparents were born in Ireland.”
Mr Biden’s family also has links to Co Mayo.
Ballina was showcased to over 10 million viewers in the US after a major news network decided to run a story covering a mural of Biden in the Mayo town.
The mural was installed in recognition of Biden’s Irish roots – his great, great, great grandfather, Edward Blewitt, emigrated to the US from Ballina over 160 years ago, according to the .
International news network, NBC News aired a segment with footage from local company Suas Drones, showing off the town and surrounding areas of north Mayo.
Local councillor Mark Duffy said of the segment: “Ballina is on the map to the over 10 million followers of NBC News. Well done to everyone involved including Suas Drones for capturing the brilliant footage of Ballina.”
Biden also stopped off in Mayo during the 2016 visit to Ireland.
Mr Allen has fond memories of Biden’s visit, something which he hopes could be repeated if his White House bid is successful.
“When he was in Cooley he was going around the graveyard looking at every grave and remembering those who set sail for America and those who never made it there.
“I remember talking to him about our Ireland for Hillary campaign in 2016, ‘I said, Mr vice-president would you ever consider running?’ He just gave me a wink and a smile and walked off.
“He’d be the second Irish Catholic to be an American president. I told him in 2016 if he ran he could come back in Spring time, so you’d never know he could come echoing the sentiments of JFK.”
Mr Allen said he had spoken to Seamus Heaney’s widow Marie, who was delighted to see Biden’s use of The Cure At Troy in a campaign video.
“History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.”
– Seamus Heaney pic.twitter.com/7nB1ytYlvm
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 29, 2020
“To see him recite Seamus Heaney poetry was wonderful. I was talking to Seamus’ widow Marie the other day and she was thrilled to hear him recite the poem about Troy and where hope and history rhyme.”
Biden has previously said he would not back a UK-US trade deal in the event of a no-deal Brexit and Mr Allen pointed out that this would be a big boost for Ireland.
“In Brexit, we’d have a friend. We’d have a friend and an ally in Joe Biden if it works out.”