Joe Biden: Nominee offended Ulster Protestants in ‘disgraceful’ St Patrick’s day jibe

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President Donald Trump and democratic nominee Joe Biden have faced off in their first televised debate ahead of the US election. The exchange has been described as one of the “most chaotic and rancorous White House debates in years”, and saw the two clash over white supremacy, the pandemic and the economy in the 90-minute feature. The President repeatedly interrupted his opponent with angry and personal attacks that sometimes overshadowed the different visions each man has of a nation facing historic crises.

At one moment in the debate, Mr Biden called Mr Trump a “clown” and told him to “shut up”

He also accused the US President of bungling the response to the coronavirus pandemic and said many more people would die unless Mr Trump got “smarter”.

On race and law and order, the Democrat added: “He’s just a racist.

“This is a President who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racial hatred, racial division.”

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Mr Trump replied: “You can’t even say the word ‘law enforcement’ because if you say those words you’re going to lose all of your radical left supporters .

“We believe in law and order, but you don’t.”

As the race is about to enter its final month, unearthed reports shed light on Mr Biden’s time as US Vice President.

In 2015, an unionist Ulster MP called on Mr Biden to apologise for casting a “slur” on Protestants by joking to an Irish delegation that no-one wearing orange was welcome in his house on St Patrick’s Day.

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Northern Irish Protestants traditionally wear orange during their annual summer parades, while green is used as a symbol by mostly Catholic Irish nationalists and is a theme of St Patrick’s Day celebrations around the world.

Speaking at the front door of his residence to a delegation led by then-Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, Mr Biden said that “if you’re wearing orange, you’re not welcome in here” before adding that he was only joking.

Protestant leaders in Northern Ireland were not amused.

William McCrea, a member of the British parliament for the Democratic Unionist Party, said in a statement: “Whether they were intended as a joke or not, the comments are a slur on those who would be known as ‘orange’, such as Protestants.

He added: “When Northern Ireland is making such an effort to make St Patrick’s Day an inclusive celebration, Joe Biden’s comments were disgraceful and careless.”

Asked about the request for an apology, an official in Mr Biden’s office said the Vice President had made clear that he was joking.

The colours orange and green took on strong political overtones in Northern Ireland during three decades of tit-for-tat killings between Catholics supporting a united Ireland and Protestants who wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom.

The violence largely ended with a 1998 peace deal, but symbols such as flags remain politically potent in the province.

Five years ago, Mr Biden incorrectly suggested at a St Patrick’s Day reception that the mother of then-Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen was dead, saying “God rest her soul,” before correcting himself to say “God bless her soul.”

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