Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told US president Donald Trump that making America great again does not mean forgetting or losing sight of what makes it great already, writes
In his speech to mark the presentation of the shamrock bowl to Mr Trump and his wife Melania, Mr Varadkar reflected on America's history, its economic bonds with Ireland, and inspiring figures who have changed the world.
Discussing past US presidents with crowds at the traditional St Patrick's Day celebration ceremony in the White House, Mr Varadkar also praised his host:
“Your ambition is to make America great again, and we can see the results today. The American economy is booming. More jobs. Rising incomes. Exactly what you said you’d do.”
Nonetheless, he stressed the importance of American values, to the congressmen, business leaders, and Irish and American officials in the packed room.
“However, I believe the greatness of America is about more than economic prowess and military might. It is rooted in the things that make us love America: your people, your values, a new nation conceived in liberty. The land and the home of the brave and the free.”
Finishing a packed day which included the Speakers lunch in Capitol Hill and breakfast earlier at the vice president's residence, the Taoiseach praised American values that had inspired generations.
“The promise of America inspired those seeking liberty and freedom around the world, including in my own country.”
The Taoiseach also added: "And we know and trust, that making America great again will not mean forgetting or losing sight of what makes it great already.
"People around the world have been inspired by America and have travelled here to make them their own. And people came, including millions from Ireland who were among the hands that built America.”
The Irish Examiner has also confirmed that President Trump has personally intervened in the Irish visa scheme ahead of fresh attempts to get it agreed.
Government sources confirmed that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been told that congressman Richard Neale will reintroduce the E3 scheme and has said so to senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.
It is understood that President Trump has also personally spoken to senator Tom Cotton who previously blocked the scheme.
The visa scheme is currently only open to Australians.
Leo Varadkar will travel to Chicago tomorrow to continue his US visit to mark St Patrick's Day celebrations.