Confused Biden Mistakes Sports Team for Notorious Paramilitary on Ireland Tour

US President Joe Biden speaks with family and friends of US embassy staff after arriving a
Julien Behal/Irish Government/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A confused Joe Biden has mistaken a national sports team with a notorious paramilitary group while on his grand tour of Ireland.

Gaffe-prone American President Joe Biden has once again provoked confusion and laughs after he conflated a national sports team with a notorious 20th-century paramilitary group.

The comments came late on the commander-in-chief’s second day of touring Ireland, with Biden meeting with extended family members still resident on the island.

According to a report by POLITICO, Biden’s slip-up originated from an attempt to praise one of these extended relations, that of famous Irish rugby player Rob Kearney, who during his time playing for the country at an international level, helped beat New Zealand’s legendary national team, the “All Blacks”.

However, while attempting to play up his distant cousin’s achievements, Biden claimed that Kearney had not in fact beaten the All Blacks, but the notorious 20th-century British paramilitary organisation known as the “black and tans”.

Made up of former soldiers who fought for the British during the first world war, the outfit became infamous for violently sacking Irish towns during the country’s War of Independence, frequently burning down villages thought to have collaborated with the IRA.

“He’s a hell of a rugby player, and he beat the hell out of the Black and Tans,” he said, prompting giggles from the gathered crowd.

The gaffe will likely be less funny for pro-British unionists residing in Northern Ireland however, who may see the off-hand reference to the paramilitary that has been defunct for one hundred years as further evidence of anti-UK bias.

Biden’s White House has been firefighting against claims that the President is “anti-British” since he arrived in Ireland on Tuesday, with members of the pro-UK and Brexit Democratic Unionist Party expressing frustration at Biden’s clear favouritism towards Irish Republicanism, an ideology that wants to see the contested Northern region leave the UK.

“He’s anti-British. He is pro-Republican and he has made his antipathy towards Protestants in particular very well known,” DUP MP Sammy Wilson remarked, with another politician describing the President as “irredeemably partisan”.

Meanwhile, Wednesday actually marks the second time an American official has confused the Irish rugby team with a military organisation.

Speaking last month shortly before St Patrick’s Day, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer praised the team for its recent successes, having risen to become the best-ranked national team in the world, before suggesting that they would be able to solve the West’s current problems with Russia if sent east.

“I think if you sent the Irish rugby team to Ukraine, this thing might be over in a week,” the Senate Majority Leader remarked.

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