The White House on Thursday played clean up on President Joe Biden‘s gaffe when he muddled the Black and Tans, a British force that brutally put down Irish insurgents in the 1920s, with the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team.

‘I think for everyone in in Ireland who was a rugby fan, it was incredibly clear that the president was talking about the All Blacks and Ireland’s defeat of the New Zealand team in 2016,’ said Amanda Sloat, senior National Security Director for Europe, during a morning briefing. 

The slip had threatened to overshadow Biden’s cross-border activities a day earlier, when he had to walk the fine line of keeping Northern Ireland Protestant and Catholic communities happy.

But referencing the hated British force quickly enflamed pro-London unionists in the north. 

The White House even cleaned up its official transcript of the event at a restaurant in Dundalk, Co. Louth, striking through the words ‘Black and Tans’. 

President Joe Biden managed to muddled the feared Black and Tans security forces of the 1920s with the New Zealand ruby team (the All Blacks) on Wednesday

The White House put out a corrected transcript on Wednesday night

‘He was a hell of a rugby player, and he beat the hell out of the [All Blacks],’ read the record of his comments about his cousin Rob Kearney, part of a team that defeated New Zealand in Chicago in 2016.

The Black and Tans were a British auxiliary security force deployed during the Irish War of Independence.

They became infamous for their brutality and Biden has spoken about learning stories of their notoriety from his anti-British great aunt Gertie.

It almost took the shine off a decent day’s work by Biden. He arrived in Belfast amid political deadlock, with unionists worried that such a pro-Irish president did not understand their position.

Instead he used a speech at Ulster University to talk up his British roots and to say that politics in Northern Ireland was a matter for the people of Northern Ireland.

‘We’ve gotten incredibly positive feedback from from all communities and political sides there,’ said Sloat. 

‘I think, a really important message for the president to be able to deliver to the people of Northern Ireland.’

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden ‘had the time of his life’ later in the day when he crossed the border and met up with relatives in Co. Louth.

Thursday is a day of official business: meetings with the Irish president and prime minister, followed by a speech to the Irish parliament.  

That makes him the fourth president to address a joint session of the Irish parliament after Kennedy in 1963, Ronald Reagan in 1984 and Bill Clinton in 1995. 

Officials said the speech will focus on ‘US -cooperation to advance democracy, peace, security and prosperity, as well as the deep shared history between the US and Ireland.’

It will followed by a state banquet at Dublin Castle.

On Friday it is more family time. Biden will travel west to see family in Ballina, Co. Mayo, and deliver a speech to an expected crowd of about 20,000 people.

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