Addressing a press conference at Shannon Airport today alongside the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, US President Donald Trump told the Irish media the crisis over Britain’s withdrawal from the EU is “going to work out... with your wall, with your border”. He also said claimed to know most Irish-Americans personally, declaring: “We love the Irish”.
Despite the threat posed by the potential remilitarisation of Britain’s border through Ireland, the US president insisted that Brexit itself will be “very, very good” for Ireland. Mr Trump was corrected by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar after referring to the border as “the wall”.
The two premiers held a joint press conference after Trump landed on Air Force One at Shannon airport and before later flying out by helicopter to his golf resort at Doonbeg, County Clare.
Speaking to the media, Mr Varadkar said it was a great honour to welcome President Trump to Ireland. Mr Trump responded by saying he and Varadkar have become friends. Mr Trump said Ireland and the US do a lot of business together and noted it is one of the leading countries in terms of immigration to the US.
“We have millions of Irish and I think I know most of them because they are my friends, we love the Irish, so it’s an honour to be here, we will be discussing various things, probably he’ll ask me about Brexit because I know some very good people that are very likely to welcome Brexit.
“I think it will all work out very well also for you, with your wall, your border, I mean we have a border situation in the United States.” Mr Varadkar responded by saying Ireland wanted to avoid a border or a wall.
Asked about the United Stated as a guarantor of peace in the North of Ireland, Mr Trump said: “I think what’s going to happen is over the next period of time is, first we have to wait to see who is going to be Prime Minister, and I think it’s a very important decision, we’ll see what happens over in the UK because that’s going to be decision number one, who is going to be Prime Minister.
“Once that happens, that person will get in and try to make a deal and maybe if they don’t make a deal, they do it in a different way but I know one thing, Ireland is going to be in great shape, Ireland is a special place that’s going to be in very good shape.
“I don’t think the border is going to be a problem at all.”
Mr Trump also told reporters that he is working to find a solution to the Irish immigration/deportation issue with the US, saying he wants to do so for Irish people and Irish-Americans.
“We almost made it last time, we’re looking at that, it was one vote, do you know that, and we’re looking to that, I’m sure that is something we will discuss... I want to do for the people of Ireland, but for the people who are in the US and want this vote to happen and happen to be of Irish descent as well,” he said.
Several hundred people turned out to protest at the entrance to Shannon Airport. Various groups are protesting against the president’s policies on climate change and the continuing use of Shannon Airport by the American military in violation of Irish neutrality.
Sinn Fein Senator Paul Gavan said he was struck by the irony of the fact that Mr Trump met the Taoiseach at Shannon Airport.
“It is not that long ago that we saw Vice President Pence give a pep talk to US troops on Irish soil in Shannon Airport, our civilian airport, except it is not a civilian airport anymore,” he said.
“It is constantly filled with US troops travelling to or from the various war zones of US occupation and imperialism.”
“Three million US troops and their weapons have been transported through Shannon Airport to and from US wars since 2001, as well as torture rendition flights. He said this was an affront to our tradition of neutrality and of standing up for human rights across the world.
“There are a host of other very valid reasons to oppose President Trump including his racism, his misogyny, his anti-Palestinian policies and his appalling denial of climate change.
“However, above all, it is his fuelling of the military war machine that continues to wreak havoc and destruction throughout the world that demands that we take a stand today.”