Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny gave a speech in the East Room of the White House Thursday evening to commemorate St. Patrick's Day — and to not-so-subtly roast the heck out of President Donald Trump, whose second Muslim ban was blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii on Wednesday.
According to a video released by the British television network Channel 4, the Taoiseach used his time to point out that Saint Patrick is not just the patron saint of Ireland but "for many people around the globe, he's also a symbol of, indeed the patron of, immigrants."
Earlier in the day, during the annual St. Patrick's Day Speakers Lunch, Kenny threw few soft punches at Trump, according to the Independent. Kenny reportedly joked, "They say the Irish have the capacity to change everything," and then added, "I just saw the president of the United States read from his script...entirely," a dig at Trump's infamous habit of going off-topic while speaking publicly.
But it was during his speech in the East Room later in the day – standing right beside Donald Trump – that Kenny unleashed a righteous tongue-lashing of Trump's exclusionist, "America First" ideologies, even referencing "The New Colossus," the poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty, to drive home the point:
"Ireland came to America because, deprived of liberty, deprived of opportunity, of safety, of even food itself, the Irish believed," Kenny said. "Four decades before Lady Liberty lifted her lamp, we were the wretched refuse on the teeming shore. We believed in the shelter of America, in the compassion of America, in the opportunity of America. We came and we became Americans."
Some background: the Great Famine, also known as the Irish Potato Famine or the Potato Blight, caused famine-related diseases that killed about a million Irish between 1845 and 1849. According to the Library of Congress, the famine is credited with the second-wave surge of Irish immigration to the United States. During the 1800s, Irish immigrants were widely reviled in the United States: the Library of Congress notes that discrimination against Irish immigrants centered around "poor living conditions and their willingness to work for low wages" and was "exacerbated" by religious conflict stemming from anti-Catholic sentiment among Protestant Americans.
"We lived the words of John F. Kennedy long before he uttered them," Kenny said during his East Room speech. "We asked not what America could do for us, but what we could do for America, and we still do."
We dig through the Donald Trump news so you don't have to. Sign up here for Navigating Trump's America, our daily newsletter about the president.