Belfast Telegraph

It's an Open invitation to Trump as Foster asks President to pay visit - but what could he do?

DUP leader Arlene Foster chats to US President Donald Trump while Taoiseach Leo Varadkar talks with Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a lunch hosted by her yesterday
DUP leader Arlene Foster chats to US President Donald Trump while Taoiseach Leo Varadkar talks with Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a lunch hosted by her yesterday
Arlene Foster and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar chat at an Ireland Funds gala dinner in Washington DC
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left) and his partner Matt Barrett (far right) with Vice President Mike Pence and his sister Anne Pence Poynter
Mr Varadkar with President Trump
Mrs Foster and DUP colleague Paul Givan with Vice-President Mike Pence

By Press Association

DUP leader Arlene Foster has invited US President Donald Trump to visit Northern Ireland for The Open Championship.

Mrs Foster, who is in Washington for St Patrick's Day, invited Mr Trump to The Open at Royal Portrush in July as she attended a lunch on Capitol Hill addressed by the President.

Mrs Foster shared photos of her meeting with Mr Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence.

She tweeted: "Great opportunity to speak with @realDonaldTrump & @VP Mike Pence during a lunch hosted by @SpeakerPelosi on Capitol Hill.

"Great commitment amongst the US administration to help Northern Ireland... Also invited them to @royalportrush for The Open 2019."

The Open makes a return to here in 2019, running from July 18-21, and will see the world's greatest golfers competing for the Claret Jug. An avid fan and club owner, Mr Trump has often been criticised for the amount of time he spends on the Florida fairways.

5 things Trump could do in Portrush

  • There is perhaps nowhere as fitting for President Trump to visit than a home away from home, The White House department store.
  • No visit is complete without a trip to Barry's Amusements.
  • He could take a stroll along the many beautiful beaches.
  • And afterwards, he could choose from the vast array of restaurants for dinner, including the Ramore complex, or one of the local fish and chip shops.
  • And to finish off his day at the seaside, how about the obligatory Morelli's ice-cream.

One of his courses is in the Co Clare village of Doonbeg.

Mrs Foster explained to the BBC why she would be inviting the President to the north coast for the championship this summer.

"It is the biggest event ever in Northern Ireland," she said.

"It is a huge event that will put Northern Ireland on the map."

However, in the past other local politicians have said they would never meet Mr Trump because of the many scandals that have surrounded him.

Mrs Foster added: "Would we like the President of the United States to come to Northern Ireland?

"Very much so. He is democratically elected, like the rest of us."

It's the third invite from the DUP for Mr Trump to visit.

Ian Paisley MP asked him to come over last year, and again in 2017.

Yesterday Mr Trump confirmed he will visit Ireland later this year, but he made no mention of whether he would be travelling north.

During a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office at the White House yesterday he told the Republic's premier that he wanted to make the trip.

Mr Varadkar was on the second day of his annual St Patrick's Day tour to the United States.

Last year it was announced that Mr Trump would visit Ireland in November, but this was later cancelled. Mr Trump said: "I am coming at some point during the year.

"I missed it last time and I would have loved to have been there.

"It's a special place and I have a very warm spot for Doonbeg, I will tell you that, and it's just a great place."

Later Mr Trump said the United States and Ireland were bound together with ties of kinship and friendship.

He described the relationship between the two countries as "strong and resilient".

During the Speaker's Lunch at the Capitol Building Mr Trump also reassured Mr Varadkar on the ongoing Brexit debate, saying "it will all work out".

The annual lunch was hosted by House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and included a number of Irish political representatives, as well as Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

Mr Pence, Mrs Foster and Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald were also in attendance.

Speaking about his earlier private meeting with Mr Varadkar, the President said: "We discussed a lot of things, in particular we talked about Brexit, something that turned out to be a little more complex than they thought it (would) be.

"But it will all work out, everything does, one way or the other.

"You've got a very interesting view on it, and I appreciate you letting me know what's going on over there.

"(It is) a very tough situation."

Mr Varadkar thanked the Friends of Ireland caucus in Congress for the "vital help" in protecting the Good Friday Agreement.

The organisation was founded by Irish-American politicians to support peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

Mr Varadkar said: "The Irish people have always had a dialogue with the American people. It is genuine, it is warm, and it has stood the test of time."

"Your political and civic leaders - of all parties and backgrounds - helped shape the country that Ireland is today," the Taoiseach added.

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