Varadkar pledges to tackle Brexit with president on surprise visit


Special relationship: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar greets US President Donald Trump at Capitol Hill during St Patrick’s Day celebrations in 2018. Photo: PA
Special relationship: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar greets US President Donald Trump at Capitol Hill during St Patrick’s Day celebrations in 2018. Photo: PA

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said US President Donald Trump’s plan to visit Ireland “came a little bit out of the blue”.

However, the visit by Mr Trump will be an opportunity to raise Irish concerns over migration, human rights and the US president’s support of Brexit, he added.

Mr Varadkar appreciated that many Irish people dislike Mr Trump and disagree with his policies but added he is the elected US president and that office has to be treated “with the respect that it deserves”.

He also said if Mr Trump invites him for a round of golf at his Doonbeg resort in Co Clare, he won’t be able to accept as he doesn’t play.

Mr Varadkar was speaking to RTÉ’s Marty Morrissey after he watched Dublin win the All-Ireland football final in Croke Park yesterday.

He said he himself disagreed with some of Mr Trump’s policies but stressed the relationship between the two countries was “more important than any Irish government or any US administration and I think we have to treat his office with the respect that it deserves”.

The Taoiseach said he expects he will meet with Mr Trump, and said “that will be an opportunity to talk about the issues we’re concerned about”. He listed trade, migration issues, human rights and Europe, adding “he’s very supportive of Brexit. I, once again, want to explain to him why that’s not the right position either for America, or for Europe.”

He said that news that Mr Trump wanted to visit “came a little bit out of the blue” but also said there is an “open invitation to the US president to visit Ireland at any time”, just as there is for Irish leaders to visit the White House for St Patrick’s Day festivities.

The Taoiseach said the programme for Mr Trump’s visit in November had still to be worked out. He said it would have to take in account the fact that Ireland is inaugurating our own president on November 11.

He said there will also have to be enough “time and space” to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War I.

Mr Varadkar said: “Hundreds of thousands of Irish people, including a lot of people from this city, fought in the first world war. We need to make sure that’s appropriate and fits around that as well.”

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News of Mr Trump’s visit emerged less than a week after Pope Francis was in Ireland.

It’s seven years since former US president Barack Obama made a successful trip to Dublin and Moneygall, Co Offaly.

Irish Independent

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