Belfast Telegraph

US vice president meets Higgins and Varadkar during official visit to Ireland

Mike Pence and his family met Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina at their official residence in Dublin.

Irish President Michael D Higgins meeting US vice president Mike Pence (Liam McBurney/PA)
Irish President Michael D Higgins meeting US vice president Mike Pence (Liam McBurney/PA)

By Cate McCurry and Aoife Moore, PA

Mike Pence began the second day of his first official visit to Ireland by meeting the Irish president.

The US vice president was accompanied by his wife Karen, mother Nancy Pence-Fritsch and sister Ann Poynter as they were greeted by President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina at their official residence in Dublin.

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Mr Pence and his wife Karen leaving Aras an Uachtarain after meeting Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina (Liam McBurney/PA)

The engagement at Aras an Uachtarain came ahead of Mr Pence’s meeting with Irish premier Leo Varadkar. The Pence family had travelled to Dublin from Shannon Airport on Air Force Two after spending their first night on their Irish visit in Doonbeg, Co Clare.

Mr Higgins and his wife escorted Mr and Mrs Pence to the state dining room of the Aras on Tuesday morning.

The US vice president greeted the press before signing the guest book.

He wrote: “In the memory of a great Irishman, Richard Michael Cawley (Mr Pence’s maternal grandfather) and on behalf of the United States of America – we are delighted to be back in Ireland.”

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The guest book signed by Mr Pence (Liam McBurney/PA)

Mr Pence and Mr Higgins held a meeting where they discussed “the deep bonds and enduring relations of friendship, culture and trade between Ireland and the United States, and emphasised the need for continued multilateral co-operation to effectively address global and regional challenges”, a statement from Mr Higgins’ office said.

“President Higgins acknowledged long-standing US support for the peace process in Northern Ireland and highlighted the importance of human rights and equality legislation in resolving the conflict and promoting social change on the island of Ireland.

“The president spoke of the two nations’ shared concerns about the challenges posed by Brexit and stressed the important role of multilateral co-operation in addressing complex global issues such as conflict, poverty, food insecurity and climate change.”

Mr Higgins also emphasised the importance of responding “adequately and compassionately” to the needs of migrants and refugees.

Touching down at Shannon Airport on Monday, Mr Pence pledged that his country will play a constructive role over Brexit, ahead of his scheduled meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson later this week.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mr and Mrs Pence were greeted by Mr Varadkar and his partner Matthew Barrett at the front door to Farmleigh, the Irish state guest house in Phoenix Park, Dublin, and exchanged pleasantries.

The US vice-president signed a visitor book in the Farmleigh entrance hall before attending a lunch with the Irish leader, Mr Barrett and Mr Varadkar’s parents, Ashok and Miriam.

Mr Pence is a conservative who opposed gay marriage during his time in Congress.

In 2015, as Indiana governor, he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allowed businesses to act according to their religious beliefs. It followed the introduction of same-sex marriage in the state in 2014.

Mr Varadkar made history when he became the first openly gay Irish head of state in 2017.

PA

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