Saturday 24 August 2019

'I'm looking forward to celebrating my Irish roots' - US vice president Mike Pence prepares for visit next month

Mike Pence (Dan Gleiter/The Patriot-News/AP)
Mike Pence (Dan Gleiter/The Patriot-News/AP)

Sam Blewett

US vice president Mike Pence has said Ireland is "very near to his family's heart" as he prepares for his visit here early next month.

Mr Pence is set to come to Ireland for his first official trip on September 6.

He wrote on Twitter today: "On September 6-7 we will travel to Ireland, a country that is very near to my family’s heart, where we look forward to meeting with President  @MichaelDHiggins, Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar, and Tánaiste @simoncoveney while celebrating my Irish roots!"

The White House had previously said Mr Pence will voice the States' "commitment to maintaining peace, prosperity, and stability in Ireland by upholding the Good Friday Agreement".

He will also discuss trade, investment and strengthening the economic relationship between the two nations.

He will first visit the UK, on September 4-5, to discuss Brexit, Iran and the "threat of Chinese malign influence", the White House said.

The announcement of the visit came after US House speaker Nancy Pelosi warned there was "no chance" of a US-UK trade deal if Brexit jeopardises the peace accord in Northern Ireland.

She said the Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, will block the deal in Congress if the EU departure "undermines" the agreement.

Mr Pence is a controversial figure and has been particularly criticised over his stance on LGBTQ rights.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, one of the US's largest gay rights groups, once said Mr Pence "poses one of the greatest threats to equality in the history of our movement".

PA Media

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