Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will raise the issue of equality of opportunity for women with US president Donald Trump during a White House meeting next week. An open invitation to Mr Trump and US vice president Mike Pence to visit Ireland also remains in place, Mr Varadkar confirmed yesterday.
The Taoiseach is scheduled to make the traditional St Patrick’s week visit to Washington DC and the White House, with the meeting to take place next Thursday. The pair are expected to discuss economic co-operation, Brexit, and other issues.
Both leaders will also discuss the Good Friday Agreement. A statement from the White House this week said Mr Trump and Mr Varadkar would look at ways of enhancing economic and people-to-people ties, and discuss maintaining the progress achieved by the Good Friday Agreement.
Mr Trump is expected to be asked about the issue of extending E-3 visas to Irish citizens, a measure voted down in the US Senate last year. Mr Varadkar will also visit Chicago and attend a number of public events there, including some with the Irish diaspora. When pressed yesterday on whether he would take the Government’s message of equality for women to Mr Trump, the Taoiseach confirmed that he intended to raise it as an issue.
“The meeting with President Trump is quite short and I’m always keen to get as many items on the agenda as possible,” Mr Varadkar said.
“Time is short and that makes it difficult. But I hope to have the opportunity to raise with him general issues around equality and equality of opportunity relating to women, but not just women.
“I think one of the things that made America great is the fact that America is one of the leaders in the world, in terms of equality, in terms of judging people by the content of their character, not by the colour of their skin or gender.
“It is where Stonewall [protests] started 50 years ago, it is where so much of the women’s rights movements were born. It is where black people refused to sit in the back of the bus.
“To me, one of the things that makes America great is its commitment to individual liberty and freedom. So I might have an opportunity to share that perspective with him [Mr Trump] again in the White House.”
The Taoiseach also confirmed an open invitation to Mr Trump and Mr Pence to visit Ireland remained.
“There would be a standing invitation to the US president and vice president to visit Ireland and that invitation stands,” he said.
Asked whether his partner Matt would accompany him on the visit, Mr Varadkar said a decision had not yet been made.