BALLINA, Ireland – Nestled inland off the wild Atlantic coast of Ireland, about 3,000 miles east of Delaware, the small town of Ballina, the ancestral home of the presidential election.
11 days after their projected victory, the close town of 10,000 in County Mayo is still erupting with joy at the success of the man they claim to be.
American flags fly over street corners, a large painted Biden mural overlooking the town square, while Biden smiles proudly on the shop windows with smiling photos, read with the slogan: “Our man in the White House.”
According to US Census Bureau data, Biden is among some 32 million Americans with Irish heritage.
In 2016 he came on an official trip to Ireland to learn about his roots to his children and grandchildren, including family on the east coast in County Louth.
Great-great-grandfather Edward Blevitt of Biden grew up in the market town of Ballina, known for salmon fishing and the birthplace of Ireland’s first female president, Mary Robinson. Belvin evacuated after the birth of the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s in Schnanton, Pennsylvania, now a sister city of Ballina.
Notably a member of the city, Joe Blewitt, 41, a plumber and Biden’s third cousin, is bursting with pride.
Blewitt told NBC News, “It’s fantastic to see them coming on line, you know, and so many people have voted for them.”
He met in the White House as guest president and in both elections in 2017, when President Barack Obama surprised Joe Biden with a presidential medal.
“He’s a really respected man, he’s really decent,” Blewitt said. “He is a great man for America … and you know, he is one of our own.”
Lauren Bilevit, who is Biden’s third cousin and Joe Blevitt’s sister, was invited by the former vice president on the campaign trail earlier this year. She described NBC News as president-elect “so proud of her Irish affair”.
If the coronovirus allows a travel ban, saying that he spoke with Biden’s family after his anticipated victory on 7 November and is willing to attend his inauguration in January.
But Biden’s Irish roots, although a boon for Ballina, may be a mess for some in London.
Despite British Prime Minister Boris Johnson being one of the first global leaders to receive a call from Biden last Tuesday, the incoming president has previously emphasized the importance of protecting Northern Ireland’s peace deal in the Brexit process.
Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin told NBC News that Biden “could be a catalyst for resetting relations between Britain and the European Union” and said that “a commitment to the Good Friday Agreement,” “would be a positive for Ireland.” “
The landmark 1998 Good Friday peace deal effectively ended 30 years of communal violence in Northern Ireland and created new institutions for cross-border cooperation.
Fellow Democrat and former President Bill Clinton played a central role in touting the deal, dragging the hard-core side to the negotiating table, helping with decades of political deadlock and fighting.
Following a serious referendum campaign in 2016, Britain voted to leave the European Union. After officially leaving in January this year, Johnson’s government is now negotiating a trade deal with the European Union.
But being disappointed by that process, Johnson put forward legislation that he acknowledged could violate international law and break the Northern Ireland Protocol to the Brexit Divorce Treaty.
It showed that two months earlier, Biden had sounded the alarm and warning, repeatedly stating that the US-Brocade peace deal should not reduce or become a “casualty of Brexit”. Biden warns London to honor the 1998 agreement or there could be no separate post-Brexit US trade deal, which is Westminster’s craze.
Without mentioning Brexit, Johnson welcomed Biden’s victory, tweeting Following their phone-call: “I look forward to strengthening the partnership between our countries and working with them on our shared priorities.”
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Britain has said it is willing to leave without a trade deal – despite warnings from many businesses it could lead to chaos – which could further complicate Northern Ireland’s sensitive border with Ireland, which the European Union Is part of.
To add to the pressure, the clock is ticking. The deadline for a trade deal is set to 31 December.
Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told NBC News on Thursday that Biden was undoubtedly “emotionally and politically” close to Ireland.
“Joe Biden understands the complexity of Irish politics to the north and the south, the complexity of the Irish relationship with the UK,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Martin was Among the first world leaders To congratulate Biden for his success and told NBC News that he had already invited Biden to tour the country while he was in office.
“This is a moment of celebration on an emotional level,” Martin said. “One of it has its own understanding that has made it to the top of the United States.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
Tony hemmings has contributed.