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Wednesday 24 May 2017

Taoiseach hopes US Vice-President elect Mike Pence visits Ireland - despite gay 'conversion' therapy controversy

Vice president-elect Mike Pence departs Trump Tower in New York after meeting with Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters
Mike Pence (front left) watches the election results come in with Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump late Tuesday night
US vice president-elect Mike Pence walks past the media as he leaves Trump Tower with his wife Karen (AP)
US Vice President-elect Mike Pence walks by reporters while exiting Trump Tower on November 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has told US Vice President-elect Mike Pence that he hopes he will visit Ireland again in the future.

He made the comments during a 15-minute phonecall with Donald Trump's running mate this evening.

Suggestions that the Vice President-elect be invited to visit his ancestral home of Doocastle caused controversy last week, due to his previous comments which many claim suggested he supported gay 'conversion' therapy.

Mr Pence previously said he supported the use of federal funding to treat people "seeking to change their sexual behaviour" - however did not say he supported gay conversion therapy.

Mike Pence's grandfather was Richard Cawley, who left Ireland in 1923 for Chicago, where he became a bus driver.

However last week locals criticised a plan to invite him.

Village residents not happy at Pence invite

"I can tell you we are ashamed of him," said Kevin Donoghue, who is from Doocastle and is a former president of the Union of Students in Ireland.

"As a native of Mike Pence's ancestral home, I want to make it unequivocally clear that I am far from delighted at his election and he is most definitely not welcome to visit the fine community that Doocastle has become in his absence.

"The many scandalous stories that have emerged about Donald Trump in recent weeks have overshadowed the kind of politician that his running mate is."

Mr Kenny spoke to the Vice President-Elect about his strong Irish heritage - expressing the wish that the Vice President-Elect might visit here again sometime in the future.

Comment: If you're a racist or homophobe you're all right with us - as long as you have some Irish blood in you

During the call Mr Kenny also expressed his intention to engage positively with the new administration on a number of issues to the mutual benefit of Ireland and the US.

A spokesperson said the Taoiseach also raised the issue of the undocumented Irish in the US and expressed his determination to work with the President and Vice President-Elect in seeking a solution to the issue.

He also referred to the economic ties between the two countries, including the long standing and productive relationship Ireland has with many US companies, as well as the fact that there are 100,000 Americans employed in Irish companies across America.

Vice President-Elect Pence expressed an in-depth understanding of Irish and Irish/American issues during what was described as a 'warm' conversation.

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