Latest: Tánaiste welcomes US VP Mike Pence to Ireland

The Vice President’s trip comes three months after Mr Trump visited Ireland for the first time as president.

Latest: Tánaiste welcomes US VP Mike Pence to Ireland

Update 4.55pm: Airforce Two has touched down in Shannon Airport this afternoon, marking the beginning of US Vice President Mike Pence's visit to Ireland.

Mr Pence and his wife Karen were greeted by Tánaiste Simon Coveney, Ireland's Ambassador to the US Daniel Mulhall, Mayor of County Clare Cllr Cathal Crowe and Shannon Airport's Chairman Rose Hynes.

Mr Pence and Mr Coveney then took part in a bilateral meeting at the airport.

Mr Pence pledged that his country will play a constructive role over Brexit.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners in Ireland and the United Kingdom to support a Brexit plan that encourages stability and also one which keeps the strong foundation forged by the Good Friday Agreement,” Mr Pence said.

Minister of foreign affairs Simon Coveney, right, at a meeting with Mr Pence in Ireland (Jacob King/PA)
Minister of foreign affairs Simon Coveney, right, at a meeting with Mr Pence in Ireland (Jacob King/PA)

“I will be in the UK meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in just a few days but I think the opportunity to better understand Ireland’s perspective and unique needs, particularly with regard to the Northern border, will make us even better equipped to hopefully play a constructive role that when Brexit occurs, it will occur in a way that reflects stability and addresses the unique relationship between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.”

Over the course of the coming days Mr Pence will meet the Taoiseach and the President.

He will stay in Doonbeg, in Co Clare where he has family connections.

Mr Pence spoke ahead of his visit about looking forward to celebrating his Irish roots. His mother Nancy Pence Fritsch and sister Ann Pence Poynter are also visiting.

Speaking earlier, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described Mike Pence as a real friend of Ireland and "somebody who I hope I can speak to tomorrow about Brexit".

"The US administration is quite well disposed towards Brexit and you've heard what President Trump has said about that," Mr Varadkar said.

"I'm going to use the opportunity tomorrow just to spell out to him and explain to him a little bit better what the consequences might be for Ireland in the hope that that message will go back to the administration."

Additional reporting by Press Association

Earlier: Anti-Pence protestor prevented from entering Shannon Airport

By Pat Flynn

Update 3.50pm: A Co Clare poet has been stopped by Gardaí at Shannon Airport this afternoon as she tried to make her way towards the terminal carrying two placards.

Bellharbour-based Sarah Clancy was told by gardaí that they were concerned that US vice-president Mike Pence might be offended by the language on her signs.

Speaking at Shannon this afternoon, Ms Clancy said: “That’s what I was hoping for but they (gardaí) asked me to move away from the area which I did.”

Air Force Two, carrying Mr Pence, is due in Shannon around 4pm today.

"Mike Pence should not be honoured. I very much fear that in years to come people will wish they stood up against this regime," Ms Clancy said.

"We live in one of the most frees countries in the world. I can protest Mike Pence’s visit, his inhumanity, racism and homophobia without fear of persecution or retribution. All I face is ridicule from people who maybe don’t understand the crossroads we are at in the world at the moment.

If we don’t speak out here when there is no risk to ourselves then who will?

After moving away from the security checkpoint at Shannon, she was again approached by gardaí and asked to move further along the road. Ms Clancy obliged and was met by a second protestor. The placards read: “No fáilte for fascists” and “Queers against Pence”.

"One of Mike Pence’s election campaigns was based around opposing the idea of recognising that LGBTQ+ people like me needed specific protections under the law. This is not the same as a crank on the internet being homophobic.

"Mike Pence brings the stature and power of his office as Vice President of the United States to a type of unnecessary toxic hate. In doing so he legitimises attacks, abuse and the politics of loathing," Ms Clancy said.

"He brings his thoughts and prayers and support for the NRA to any mass shooting that happens in the US. Pence never suggests that laws should be changed or even the most ridiculous war level weapons banned," she added.

As part of the security operation, which is expected to cost up to €5m, additional fencing has also been erected along a section of the main approach road to the airport in anticipation of any possible protest against the visit.

However, while it’s understood that no such protest is expected, the Garda public order unit will remain on standby in Shannon.

It is understood that Amnesty International will be hold a protest against the visit in Dublin tomorrow.

Earlier: Business as usual at Shannon Airport as US VP Mike Pence set for official visit

By Press Association

Update 10.15am: US Vice President Mike Pence will arrive in Ireland later for an official visit that will also offer a chance to reconnect with his Irish roots.

Mr Pence will fly into Shannon Airport to begin a two-day visit on Monday afternoon.

However, the airport have insisted it will be business as usual today - however, they said passengers so give themselves more time to get to the airport as there are extra security measures in place.

A statement from Shannon Airport advised passengers to leave 15 minutes earlier than they had original planned

“If passengers have any concerns about the departure time of their flight they are advised to contact their airline,” a spokesperson for the airport said.

Mr Pence will meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar again (Brian Lawless/PA)
Mr Pence will meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar again (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Pence and Second Lady Karen will stay in Doonbeg, Co Clare, where President Donald Trump owns a luxury golf resort.

The Vice President has his own reason for staying in the remote coastal village however, as his ancestors on his mother’s side come from there. One of Mr Pence’s cousins owns a pub in Doonbeg.

The Indiana politician was originally scheduled to visit Ireland at the end of this week, but his trip was brought forward at short notice after President Trump cancelled a weekend visit to Poland.

Mr Pence brought forward his European visit to take the place of Mr Trump at commemorations in Warsaw on Sunday to mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two.

After his visit to Ireland, the Vice President is due fly to the UK later in the week for a further series of engagements.

The additional security measures at Shannon will be in place on the approach road to the airport and car parks from now until 12 noon on Wednesday

Last month, Mr Pence spoke of how he was looking forward to celebrating his Irish roots as the country is “very near to his family’s heart”.

The White House said that during his trip to Ireland, the Vice President would voice the United States’ “commitment to maintaining peace, prosperity, and stability in Ireland by upholding the Good Friday Agreement”.

He is also intending to discuss trade, investment and strengthening the economic relationship between the two nations.

The Vice President’s trip comes three months after Mr Trump visited Ireland for the first time as president.

The Pence family visits Ireland regularly, but Mr Pence himself has not visited since becoming vice president.

Mr Pence’s mother, Nancy, is a first-generation Irish-American.

As well as ancestors in Doonbeg, Mr Pence also has roots in Tubbercurry, Co Sligo.

In March, Mr Varadkar and his partner Dr Matt Barrett met with the Vice President at his official residence in Washington DC as part of his annual St Patrick’s Day tour to the US.

It came after Mr Pence, who describes himself as a Christian and a conservative, extended an invitation to the couple during a meeting with Mr Varadkar last year.

- Press Association, additional reporting Digital Desk

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