Taoiseach defends expense of Trump and Pence visits

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has defended the €18m cost of providing security for the recent visits of US president Donald Trump and vice president Mike Pence, saying “it’s worth it”.

Taoiseach defends expense of Trump and Pence visits

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has defended the €18m cost of providing security for the recent visits of US president Donald Trump and vice president Mike Pence, saying “it’s worth it”.

Speaking to reporters in Los Angeles, Mr Varadkar was asked about the costs and said: “I think it was worth it.

“Anytime a high-profile figure whether it’s Pope Francis or President Trump comes to Ireland, they’re always welcome and there are benefits for Ireland.

“We do appreciate that having two high-profile visits this year has caused the Garda overtime bill to be higher than would have been projected.

“It’s not unusual for one very high-profile visitor, maybe President Trump or Queen Elizabeth or the Pope to come. But the fact that there were two was unprecedented.

“The Government is talking with the Department of Justice and the gardaí as to what we can do about that [the extra costs].”

Mr Varadkar also said there will be no supplementary budget to deal with a no-deal Brexit.

He was responding to a recommendation from the Economic and Social Research Institute that the Government should consider one in the New Year, should Brexit require it. Mr Varadkar said that because Budget 2020 will be based on a no-deal scenario, a supplementary budget was not needed.

“If there is an orderly Brexit, things will actually turn out better than projected in the Budget,” he said.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney will travel to Brussels today to hold a meeting with EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. Mr Coveney, who chaired Cabinet yesterday given the Taoiseach’s visit to the US, told ministers he will go to “take stock” of where the Brexit process is.

“With only a few weeks remaining before October’s European Council, the onus is firmly on the UK to come up with credible, fully-worked out and legally operable proposals in a timeframe that allows these proposals to be properly considered before the council,” said Mr Coveney.

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