US president Donald Trump has claimed the Brexit crisis which is putting tens of thousands of Irish jobs at risk is going to be “very, very good” for Ireland, predicting it is “going to work out” for this country.
Mr Trump made the claim despite having to be publicly corrected by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar after referring to the border with the North as “your wall” and failing to outline any potential solutions to the standoff.
During a joint press conference with Mr Varadkar at Shannon Airport in the only official engagement of his two-day visit to Ireland, Mr Trump — who has backed the UK leaving the EU — said Ireland has nothing to worry about from Brexit.
Asked about the deepening crisis, which will see the UK crash out of the EU with no deal by October 31 unless drastic changes are made in the coming months, he said: “I think that will work out [for the UK] and also for you, with your wall, with your border, I mean we have a border situation in the United States and you have one here, but I hear it’s all going to work out.
“The big thing is going to be your border. Hopefully, that will work out. I think it will work out.
"There’s a lot of good minds thinking about how to do it. It’s going to be just fine.”
Mr Trump’s reference to his standoff with Mexico and the Democrat Party and his mentioning of “your wall” led Mr Varadkar to correct him in front of a packed media conference, saying: “The thing we want to avoid, of course, is a border or wall.”
However, Mr Trump returned to the border issue minutes later, again saying he believes Ireland has nothing to worry about from Brexit.
Speaking during a separate press conference after his private bilateral meeting with Mr Trump, Mr Varadkar said the US president may have incorrectly referred to an Irish border wall as “there are nearly 200 countries in the world so I don’t think it’s possible for him to have an in-depth understanding of every country”.
However, he confirmed Mr Trump “didn’t elaborate on why he thinks Brexit would be good for Ireland”, or what solutions he could provide.
In his meeting with Mr Varadkar, Mr Trump, who repeatedly referred to Ireland as “my friend”, also:
- Said he wants to release thousands of new two-year visas to skilled Irish workers as “I want to do that for the people of Ireland”;
- Pointedly described Ireland’s corporation tax as being “very low”;
- Sidestepped climate change criticism, including President Michael D Higgins’s description of him as “reckless and pernicious”;
- Denied that his entire visit to Ireland is about promoting his Doonbeg hotel and golf course in Co Clare.
After holding the press conference at Shannon Airport, Mr Trump travelled with first lady Melania Trump to Doonbeg, from where he will travel to the D-Day commemorations in France today.
He was greeted at Shannon Airport by Mr Varadkar and minister of state for trade Pat Breen, who described Mr Trump as a “very different from what the pictures show, a fine-looking man”.
After landing just after 4.45pm, he was brought to a special private Irish culture function before travelling to Doonbeg, where his sons Eric and Donald Jr socialised last night.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference after meeting Mr Trump, Mr Varadkar said it is “important that we would have a good relationship with the US and it is part of my job as Taoiseach”.
He denied the Government has effectively spent €10m on security measures including 3km barriers, 2m-high security fences, and 2,000 gardaí, sub-aqua divers, dog units, and air-support units, just for Mr Trump to promote his own hotel.
Mr Trump’s visit was not attended by Tánaiste Simon Coveney, who said he was travelling to the North for Stormont talks, “where there is real work to do”.
The US president’s visit was heavily criticised by opposition politicians, with up to 100 protesters attending a “peace camp” outside Shannon Airport insisting Ireland must not do deals with Mr Trump and needs to “stand up for what is right”.