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Pelosi hails ‘brilliant’ friendship between US and Ireland

The Speaker made the remarks as she welcomed Irish premier Leo Varadkar to the US Capitol on Thursday.

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Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, greets Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with a playful elbow bump (PA)

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, greets Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with a playful elbow bump (PA)

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, greets Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with a playful elbow bump (PA)

The US Speaker has praised the friendship between her nation and Ireland as “brilliant”.

Dressed in green ahead of St Patrick’s Day, Nancy Pelosi made the remark as she welcomed Ireland’s premier Leo Varadkar to the Capitol.

President Donald Trump was invited to attend the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon event but said at an earlier press conference that he was “busy” and had “other things to do”.

It comes after long-running tensions between Mr Trump and Ms Pelosi.

The guest list for the luncheon included Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis, Democratic Unionist Party MP Ian Paisley and Ulster Unionist leader Steve Aiken.

Ms Pelosi extended a welcome to all of the guests in brief remarks before inviting Mr Varadkar to address the gathering.

Taoiseach visit to the US
Ian Paisley MP at the Speaker’s luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington DC during the Taoiseach’s visit to the US (Niall Carson/PA)

“We are coming together at a challenging time globally … but we are coming together at a time where the friendship between our two countries is so brilliant,” she said.

“It is an honour to welcome the Taoiseach once again to the Capitol to return some of the hospitality he extended to us on our trip to Ireland.”

In his address, Mr Varadkar referred to the friendship between the two countries as an “historic bond that goes back centuries”.

Taoiseach visit to the US
Congressman Richard Neal (left) and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, applauding Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s speech (Niall Carson/PA)

He referred to recent changes in Ireland, including the recent inconclusive general election which left him as a caretaker Taoiseach in the wait for a new government to be agreed, as well as the resumption of power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.

But he said the impact of coronavirus “reminds us that we, humans, are not masters of our world”.

“This is a problem that is global,” he said.

“The virus knows no borders and we all have to work together to combat it.”

Mr Varadkar added that three things will remain the same, Ireland’s commitment to “staying at the heart of the European Union and at the centre of EU-US relations”, facing challenges together “in a spirit of partnership” and protecting the achievement of peace.

“Whatever lies ahead, we will protect the achievements of the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement. Thank you for sharing this determination,” he added.

PA