Donald Trump has said he believes Brexit will work out “very, very good for Ireland”, particularly when it comes to the contentious border issue.
Likening it to his plan for a wall on the US-Mexico border, he said: “I think that it will all work out, it will all work out very well and also for you, with your wall, your border.”
The US president added: “I mean, we have a border situation in the United States. And you have one over here, but I hear it’s going to work out very well.”
Mr Trump made the comments during his meeting at Shannon airport with Irish premier Leo Varadkar on Wednesday.
The Taoiseach quickly reminded Mr Trump that Ireland wants to avoid a hard border with Northern Ireland after Brexit, to which he agreed.
He said: “The way it works now is good and I think you want to try and keep it that way.”
In a press conference after the meeting, Mr Varadkar said he believed his US counterpart understood the need to avoid a post-Brexit hard border.
“He understands that has to be a shared objective,” he said.
Mr Varadkar said the pair discussed the “different nature” of the two border debates, with the Taoiseach explaining the border used during the Troubles.
He said: “I explained… that everyone in Ireland – north and south, unionist and nationalist – want to avoid a return to a hard border, but that Brexit is a threat in that regard and an unintended consequence that we can’t allow.”
Border arrangements and the so-called “backstop” to avoid a hard border and the return of physical checks have been a major point of contention in the Brexit process.
Mr Trump’s visit to Ireland is his first official visit as president – it will be his base for the next couple of evenings as D-Day commemorations continue.
But Wednesday’s meeting with Mr Varadkar was also marred with tension due to its location.
Shannon airport served as a compromise between the two leaders, who had both resisted each other’s proposals for meeting places.
Mr Trump had suggested a meeting at his 400-acre hotel and golf course in Doonbeg, while Mr Varadkar had picked a castle.
The US president denied accusations his visit is just a way of promoting his golf course, saying he wanted to stop over to maintain his relationship with the Irish people and its leader.
Dozens of people protested over Mr Trump climate change policies as Air Force One landed in Ireland.
A larger protest is planned in Dublin on Thursday, where the Trump “baby blimp” is set to make an appearance.
Source: SKY NEWS