Belfast Telegraph

Brexit will be 'very, very good' for Ireland, says Trump

US President to meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar - but it won't be a céad míle fáilte from everyone, with protests set for Shannon Airport, Dublin, Cork, Galway, Sligo, Belfast and Derry

By Kevin Doyle and Nicola Anderson

US President Donald Trump has predicated that Brexit will be "very, very good" for Ireland.

But during a brief media appearance at Shannon Airport, the US President had to be corrected by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as he seemed to suggest Ireland wanted a border.

"I think it'll all work out very well for you, with your wall, your border. We have a border situation in the United States, and you have one over here," Mr Trump said.

Mr Varadkar interrupted briefly to remind him: "The thing we want to avoid, of course, is a border or a wall."

Asked by Independent.ie if he understood that Brexit would be bad for Ireland, Mr Trump said it could actually be "very, very good".

He acknowledged the border question is "a big point of contention with respect to Brexit".

"The big thing is going to be your border. Hopefully that will work out. I think it will work out.

"There's a lot of good minds thinking about how to do it. It's going to be just fine," he said.

The president, who touched down in Ireland shortly before 5pm, denied any knowledge of recent criticism of his climate change policy by President Michael D Higgins.

He batted away questions about climate action, saying America has the "best air quality in the world".

US President Donald Trump (R) and First Lady Melania Trump (L) disembark Air Force One upon arrival at Shannon Airport in Shannon, County Clare, Ireland on June 5, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump (R) and First Lady Melania Trump (L) disembark Air Force One upon arrival at Shannon Airport in Shannon, County Clare, Ireland on June 5, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump (R) and First Lady Melania Trump (L) disembark Air Force One upon arrival at Shannon Airport in Shannon, County Clare, Ireland on June 5, 2019 after attending an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings wrapping up a UK State Visit. - US President Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth II joined 300 veterans in paying tribute to their fallen comrades at a poignant ceremony on Wednesday marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Wrapping up a three-day State Visit to the UK Trump flew to Ireland where he is expected to hold a meeting with prime minister Leo Varadkar and visit his golf course near the village of Doonbeg. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump (L) meets with Irish Prime Minsiter Leo Varadkar (R) at Shannon Airport in Shannon, County Clare, Ireland on June 5, 2019 after attending an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings wrapping up a UK State Visit. - US President Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth II joined 300 veterans in paying tribute to their fallen comrades at a poignant ceremony on Wednesday marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Wrapping up a three-day State Visit to the UK Trump flew to Ireland where he is expected to hold a meeting with prime minister Leo Varadkar and visit his golf course near the village of Doonbeg. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump is seen during his meeting with Irish Prime Minsiter Leo Varadkar (unseen) at Shannon Airport in Shannon, County Clare, Ireland on June 5, 2019 after attending an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings wrapping up a UK State Visit. - US President Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth II joined 300 veterans in paying tribute to their fallen comrades at a poignant ceremony on Wednesday marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Wrapping up a three-day State Visit to the UK Trump flew to Ireland where he is expected to hold a meeting with prime minister Leo Varadkar and visit his golf course near the village of Doonbeg. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
SHANNON, IRELAND - JUNE 05: US Marine Corps aircraft Marine One awaits the arrival of US President Donald Trump at Shannon Airport on June 5, 2019 in Shannon, Ireland. After visiting the UK for the D-Day 75th anniversary, US President Donald Trump will visit Ireland to meet with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar before travelling to the Trump International Golf Links resort in Doonbeg. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) meets with Irish Prime Minsiter Leo Varadkar (R) at Shannon Airport in Shannon, County Clare, Ireland on June 5, 2019 after attending an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings wrapping up a UK State Visit. - US President Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth II joined 300 veterans in paying tribute to their fallen comrades at a poignant ceremony on Wednesday marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Wrapping up a three-day State Visit to the UK Trump flew to Ireland where he is expected to hold a meeting with prime minister Leo Varadkar and visit his golf course near the village of Doonbeg. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
US First Lady Melania Trump pictured as she arrives at Shannon airport for the start of her visit to Ireland. Picture; Gerry Mooney
US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania arrives at Shannon airport for the start of their visit to Ireland. Picture; Gerry Mooney
President Donald Trump and First Lady melania touch down in Shannon Airport. Pictures by Gerry Mooney
President Donald Trump and First Lady melania touch down in Shannon Airport. Pictures by Gerry Mooney
President Donald Trump and First Lady melania touch down in Shannon Airport. Pictures by Gerry Mooney
US President Donald Trump (R) and First Lady Melania Trump (L) disembark Air Force One upon arrival at Shannon Airport in Shannon, County Clare, Ireland on June 5, 2019 after attending an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings wrapping up a UK State Visit. - US President Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth II joined 300 veterans in paying tribute to their fallen comrades at a poignant ceremony on Wednesday marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Wrapping up a three-day State Visit to the UK Trump flew to Ireland where he is expected to hold a meeting with prime minister Leo Varadkar and visit his golf course near the village of Doonbeg. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
US First Lady Melania Trump (R) is greeted by Irish Prime Minsiter Leo Varadkar (2L) upon disembarking Air Force One upon arrival at Shannon Airport in Shannon, County Clare, Ireland on June 5, 2019 after attending an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings wrapping up a UK State Visit. - US President Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth II joined 300 veterans in paying tribute to their fallen comrades at a poignant ceremony on Wednesday marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Wrapping up a three-day State Visit to the UK Trump flew to Ireland where he is expected to hold a meeting with prime minister Leo Varadkar and visit his golf course near the village of Doonbeg. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
SHANNON, IRELAND - JUNE 05: US Marine Corps aircraft Marine One awaits the arrival of US President Donald Trump at Shannon Airport on June 5, 2019 in Shannon, Ireland. After visiting the UK for the D-Day 75th anniversary, US President Donald Trump will visit Ireland to meet with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar before travelling to the Trump International Golf Links resort in Doonbeg. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (R) is greeted by Irish Prime Minsiter Leo Varadkar (3L) upon disembarking Air Force One upon arrival at Shannon Airport in Shannon, County Clare, Ireland on June 5, 2019 after attending an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings wrapping up a UK State Visit. - US President Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth II joined 300 veterans in paying tribute to their fallen comrades at a poignant ceremony on Wednesday marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Wrapping up a three-day State Visit to the UK Trump flew to Ireland where he is expected to hold a meeting with prime minister Leo Varadkar and visit his golf course near the village of Doonbeg. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (third right) awaits the arrival of US President Donald Trump at Shannon Airport for his state visit to Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania arrive at Shannon airport for the start of their visit to Ireland. Picture; Gerry Mooney

He said relations between the two countries are "as good as it's ever been, maybe better".

"We have millions of Irish and I think I know most of them because they are my friends," Mr Trump said.

The Irish Government want to use the meeting with Mr Trump to push for progress on the issue of E3 visas.

The permits, which are currently only given to Australian citizens, allow people to live and work in the United States for two years.

Major efforts have been made to extend the right to Irish citizens but it was blocked by just one Republican senator, Tom Cotton.

Mr Trump said the senator is "a great person".

"He doesn't mean to do any harm, that I can tell you. He loves Ireland actually."

The President said he wants to get a deal on visas across the line for Ireland.

"I think we're going to be in good shape. If we get a unanimous vote, we do something that we've been trying to do for a long time. I want to do it for the people of Ireland but I want to do it better in the United States," he said.

Mr Trump was asked whether his visit to Ireland was essentially a PR exercise for his hotel in Doonbeg. He denied this was the case, insisting he was here because of the special relationship between Ireland and the United States.

"This trip is really about great relationships that we have with the UK and I really wanted to do this stop in Ireland because of the relationship I have with the people and with your prime minister," he said.

Accompanied by his wife Melania, the US president was greeted by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as he arrived at Shannon Airport earlier.

The trio had a brief conversation before Trump and his wife got into a waiting car.

At a press conference at Shannon town earlier, Chief Superintendent Michael Gubbins said they have 1,500 members on the ground for the duration of Trump's visit.

He said it was “quite a large operation” and that the last time they had one of this scale was the visit of former US President George Bush in 2004.

Inside the Strategic Control Centre set up especially at the Garda station in Shannon, which is being manned on a 24 hour basis, officers were keeping a close eye on large screens showing CCTV footage from cameras at Doonbeg Golf Resort, Shannon airport and approaching roads.

About a dozen additional cameras had been installed especially for the duration of the visit by President Trump.

They also have access to a live feed from the Garda helicopter when Airforce One arrives.

Another map on screen showed the location of all the Garda radios on the ground.

Superintendent Liam Geraghty of the Garda Press Office said they have human rights advisers, tactical advisers on fire arms and a negotiators advisers all on site.

Meanwhile on the outskirts of Shannon airport, the Peace Camp for protesters hung several banners reading “US war machine out of Shannon” on the bridges approaching the airport.

Donald Trump will host a brief press conference before he travels to Doonbeg with his wife for a private dinner this evening.

Irish Independent

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