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Donald Trump tells Enda Kenny he will visit Ireland during presidency

'I love Ireland. I really love Ireland. I’ll be back'

US President Donald Trump has told Taoiseach Enda Kenny that he will visit Ireland during the course of his presidency.

Mr Enda Kenny and Mr Trump are holding talks in the White House.

During a brief media opportunity ahead of the discussions, Mr Trump said: "I love Ireland. I really love Ireland. I’ll be back."

He later added: “Absolutely, I’ll be there for sure."

Asked whether an invitation had been extended to the president, Mr Kenny said he could come "during the course of his presidency".

The Oval Office encounter is the new president's first face-to-face meeting with a leader of one of the 27 EU states that will remain in the union post-Brexit.

After the meeting, Mr Kenny said during their discussions Mr Trump said he would like to make the trip to Ireland during his presidency.

He said they discussed the election in Northern Ireland and the potential issues around the border due to Brexit.

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Mr Kenny said they also spoke of the wider difficulties a UK exit from the EU would have across the island of Ireland.

He said he emphasised to Mr Trump the potential for future transatlantic trading opportunities.

In regard to the undocumented Irish, Mr Kenny said the talks were positive.

"There is clear agreement to work constructively in this regard to deal with this matter," he said.

Mr Kenny indicated the administration's priorities in terms of immigration were securing their borders and cracking down on criminality.

The Taoiseach added: "Ireland will always be a friend of America, the European Union will always be a friend of America and that cooperation between these two most developed economies will be to the mutual benefit of millions of people in Europe and the United States."

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan TD said: "Our message in response to Trump’s remarks today are clear: you are not welcome here. He may claim to love Ireland, but we certainly don’t love him. We are opposed to his divisive, nationalist, protectionist approach to politics and would protest against any future visit.

"We will protest because his undermining of environmental protection is a threat to everyone. His climate denial will in time be seen as a crime against humanity which we cannot ignore.

"We will also be protesting because of the stance he has taken against Muslim refugees. The Taoiseach was right when he said that Trump's commentary during the election was both racist and dangerous. He should not apologise or withdraw those comments.

"Last but not least we will protest his protectionist and nationalist approach to international relations, which is designed to undermine international cooperation and our own European Union.

"For all these reasons we regret the fact that the Taoiseach's visit went ahead today as if it is business as usual in the White House. We should not be giving any further succour to the current administration by extending a visit to Ireland."

Strong ties

Meanwhile Vice President Mike Pence has said that ties between Ireland and the United States will be strengthened under President Trump's leadership.

Mr Pence predicted a closer relationship in the years to come as he hosted Mr Kenny for a St Patrick's breakfast at his residence in Washington.

Mr Pence, whose grandfather hailed from Co Sligo, told a select gathering of breakfast guests, including his wife Karen and Mr Kenny's wife Fionnuala, that hosting the event marked a "special day" for his family.

Beginning his address with the greeting "Top of the morning", the Vice President added: "Under President Trump's leadership, Taoiseach, I am confident that the ties between our countries will only grow - they are ties of the heart, they are ties of commerce, they are ties of shared values.

"Under President Trump's leadership and the extraordinary leadership that you (Mr Kenny) have led your government, the prosperity particularly of recent years has been a marvel, I think the best days for Ireland and for American are yet to come."

At one point in his speech, Mr Pence broke off to let his wife rise to deliver the traditional Irish greeting "cead mile failte", which means a hundred thousand welcomes.

Mr Kenny reflected on Ireland's strong ties with the US, noting that many of the first responders in New York on 9/11 had Irish heritage.

"I want to wish you Vice President and all the new administration every success and good luck in dealing with the many international and global challenges that you face," he said.

"Both you and President Trump now occupy the two most powerful political seats in the world and you have within your responsibility the opportunity to deal with many of those.

"It's not easy but you are going to get help, you are going to get help from Ireland and you are going to get help from the European Union.

"Ireland and the European Union will never be but a friend to the United States."

Following Mr Kenny's bilateral meeting with President Trump in the Oval Office he will be guest at Speaker Paul Ryan's traditional St Patrick's lunch on Capitol Hill before returning to the White House for his annual presentation of a bowl of shamrock to the president.

The Taoiseach has pledged to raise with Mr Trump the case for legal recognition for the 50,000 Irish who live in the US without permission, the "undocumented".

On Wednesday night, Mr Pence and Mr Kenny were guests of honour at a gala Irish-American dinner in Washington.

The Vice President delivered an emotional speech at the event, recalling his Co Sligo-born grandfather with fondness and claiming all his achievements in life were owed to his Irish heritage.

He also reaffirmed the "enduring commitment" of the United States to the peace process in Ireland.

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