Saturday 22 September 2018

US President Trump has said he may visit Ireland next year - before he begins to campaign for re-election

  • US president says he would like to visit Ireland next year
  • US relationship with Ireland 'outstanding and only getting better' Trump tells media
US President Donald Trump and Ireland's Prime Minister, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar laugh as Trump welcomes him to the White House in Washington, March 15, 2018 Reuters
US President Donald Trump and Ireland's Prime Minister, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar laugh as Trump welcomes him to the White House in Washington, March 15, 2018 Reuters
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and US president Donald Trump (Picture: Philp Ryan)
US President Donald Trump as he meets and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for talks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, USA. Niall Carson/PA Wire
U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Ireland's Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2018. Reuters: Kevin Lamarque
US President Donald Trump meets with Ireland's Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2018. Reuters: Kevin Lamarque

Jason O'Brien and Philip Ryan in Washington DC

President Trump has said he may visit Ireland next year - before he starts his campaign for re-election.

Mr Trump was speaking in the Oval Office alongside Leo Varadkar ahead of a 40-minute bilateral meeting between the US and Ireland.

"It's my great honour to have the very popular Prime Minister of Ireland with us and we're having some good talks about trade and about military and about cyber, and all of the other things that we are talking about," Mr Trump said.

"The relationship is outstanding, and only getting better. It really is a special group of people, a tremendous number of Irish are living in New York where I grew up and they're living in the United States, and these are truly wonderful people.

"We love them."

Talks on the military were not scheduled and it is not clear if the topic was raised.

"I will, I love it, I have property there and I may never get to see it again," Mr Trump said about a possible trip to Ireland.

He was asked if he would play golf in Ireland, before asking the Taoiseach if he plays golf.

"No, but I'm always willing to learn so we can take you for a few rounds," Mr Varadkar said.

Mr Trump was pushed on whether he might come to Ireland next year. "It might happen, I look forward to being there," he said, adding that it might help with his re-election campaign.

The US President last spoke to Mr Varadkar last summer, shortly after he became Taoiseach, and indicated an interest in the border with Northern Ireland.

"That's an interesting border also," he said today. "We have two interesting borders - one happens to be where you are, right? It's going to be interesting to see what happens."

Speaking after the meeting Mr Varadkar said he believed the President would be "very mcuh on our side" in working to avoid a hard border.

Earlier this week, Mr Trump visited California to look at prototypes for border wall he plans to build with Mexico.

The Taoiseach told President Trump he would be visiting his home city of New York tomorrow for the St Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday.

"It goes right past Trump Tower," Mr Trump said with a smile. "I would watch it all the time."

He also said that he would have liked to walk in the parade with Mr Varadkar.

The Taoiseach also told the President he previously visited the White House when he worked as a congressional intern in Washington.

“I was telling President Trump I was here as a congressional intern back in 2000 but they didn’t let me into the White House,” Mr Varadkar said.

Mr Trump respond: “but now we do - you’ve made great progress.”

He also dismissed suggestions that more of his senior staff are set to be let go.

This afternoon Taoiseach will also hold a series of private meetings with leading US politicians, including Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.

And, later this evening, the Irish delegation will return to the White House for the St Patrick’s Day reception, which includes the traditional handing over of the bowl of shamrock to the US President.

Mr Trump will spend most of the day with the Taoiseach at the end of yet another eventful week in his White House – including the sacking of his secretary of state, a visit to California to view samples for his infamous border wall plan, and a hard fought special House election.

Among the dignitaries expected at the Shamrock Ceremony are Central Bank governor Philip Lane, the Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley and former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

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