Joe Biden’s “charm offensive” in Ireland has been met with criticism and ridicule after the US President confused a famous rugby team from New Zealand with a notorious British paramilitary group.
During an appearance at the Windsor Pub in Dundalk on the first day of his trip, Biden was attempting to reference the All Blacks — New Zealand’s nationally renowned rugby team — and instead invoked the Black and Tans.
The White House have now corrected Joe Biden’s embarrassing Ireland gaffe. I wonder how much of their time is spent doing this? pic.twitter.com/Z7bAvRvbxL
— Darren Grimes (@darrengrimes_) April 13, 2023
“I’m so proud to be here, so proud to be in Louth, so proud to be with — I don’t want to ruin their reputation, but — ” Biden whispered “— the Kearneys are relatives.”
“And the closing comment I make: You see this tie I have with this shamrock on it? This was given to me by one of these guys right here. He was a hell of a rugby player, and he beat the hell out of the Black and Tans. Oh, God,” Biden continued, prompting laughter from the crowd.
The Black and Tans were English officers who were recruited to the Royal Irish Constabulary and fought against the Irish Republican Army during Ireland’s war for independence (1919–1921). The group is infamous for its brutality and the name “Black and Tan” is considered a pejorative.
Republican critics of Biden’s gaffe have expressed outrage at the President’s insensitivity to the history of Ireland’s struggle for independence. One member of the Irish Parliament, Pearse Doherty, released a statement saying, “The Black and Tans were an occupying force sent to terrorise and oppress the people of Ireland. It is an insult to their memory and to the memory of all those who fought against them that Joe Biden would make light of their name.”
The White House has since corrected the transcript to show that Biden meant to say the All Blacks, and a White House official, Amanda Sloan, confirmed the mistake. However, Biden’s misstatement has still caused considerable anger among Republicans, who are disappointed that the US President would not show the same respect for Ireland’s history as he did for other countries he has visited.
The greatest gift Ireland wanted from Joe Biden was a signature gaffe. And be the holies didn't he just go and give us one for the century. Musha musha macushla #BlackAndTans #AllBlacks #BidenVisit #Dundalk https://t.co/YgffXkZI68
— Oliver Callan (@olivercallan) April 12, 2023