Donald Trump says Brexit 'no problem' for Ireland

By Jayne McCormack
BBC News NI political reporter, in Doonbeg

Related Topics
Media caption,
Donald Trump talks Brexit on arrival in Ireland

The issue of the Irish border after Brexit will "not be a problem at all," Donald Trump has claimed on his first visit to Ireland as US President.

He arrived at Shannon Airport at about 16:45 local time and held a meeting with Taoiseach (Irish PM) Leo Varadkar.

He told Mr Varadkar that Americans "love the Irish" and said he believed things would work out well with "with your wall, your border" after Brexit.

Mr Trump then travelled to Doonbeg to stay at his golf resort.

Mr Varadkar welcomed Mr Trump to Ireland and said it was the sixth time that a serving American president has visited the state.

Mr Trump described Mr Varadkar as his friend and said the relationship between Ireland and the US was "as good as it's ever been, maybe better".

Image source, Ronald Grant
Image caption,
The Trumps arrived on Air Force One in Ireland at about 16:45 local time

The president added that there were "millions" of Irish people in the US and said: "I think I know most of them because they're my friends.

"We love the Irish, so it's an honour to be here."

Media caption,
Why has every US president since JFK visited Shannon Airport?

Mr Trump, who just completed a three-day state visit to the UK, said he would discuss Brexit, the military and trade during his meeting with Mr Varadkar.

"Probably you'll ask me about Brexit because I just left some very good people who are very much involved with Brexit as you know, and I think it will all work out very well," Mr Trump said.

"And also for you, with your wall, your border. We have a border situation in the United States and you have one over here, but I hear it's going to work out very well."

The taoiseach pointed out the Irish government wanted to avoid "a border or wall" between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Donald and Melania Trump signed the visitors book at Shannon Airport

Mr Trump replied: "I think you do, I think you do. The way it works now is good, you want to try and keep it that way."

The president added that Ireland was in "great shape" and that once a new UK prime minister was installed in Downing Street, he hoped a Brexit deal or resolution could be negotiated with the EU.

He also said he hoped the US and Irish government would agree on access to E3 working visas for Irish citizens to the US.

The two leaders then went to meet in private.

In a solo press conference after the meeting, Mr Varadkar was asked about Mr Trump's description of the Irish border as a "wall" and whether or not the president understood how much the Irish government wanted to avoid a hard border after Brexit.

"He's the president of America and 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 issues in every single country, which is why this engagement is important," Mr Varadkar replied.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

The taoiseach also said: "He is in favour of Brexit as you know, and we're not, but he understands that a major issue is the border between north and south and he shares our objective to keep the border open as it is now, respecting the Good Friday Agreement."

Mr Varadkar also said the pair discussed the Republic of Ireland's low rate of corporation tax and agreed on the need for governments to work together to ensure large companies pay their "fair share" of tax.

The taoiseach said he pointed out that the economic relationship between Ireland and America has "changed" and was now "very much a two-way relationship".

Image source, PA
Image caption,
As in the UK there were people protesting the arrival of the US president

"Ireland is in the top 10 when it comes to investors into the United States and also there are nearly 100,000 Americans working for Irish-owned firms in the United States, so it was another opportunity to point out that the economic relationship is now very much mutually beneficial," Mr Varadkar said.

President Trump was originally due to visit the Republic of Ireland last year, but the trip was postponed for scheduling reasons.

There is likely to be interest in what he has to say about maintaining the US-Ireland relationship.

Outside Shannon Airport people gathered, both in support of the President and to protest at his visit.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Supporters of Donald Trump outside Shannon Airport on Wednesday

A protest took place in Belfast on Tuesday evening against the president's visit.

How long is he visiting Ireland for?

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Donald Trump bought the Doonbeg hotel and golf course in 2014

President Trump will depart Shannon on Thursday morning to go to France for further commemorations.

He will hold a bilateral meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron before returning to his Doonbeg resort.

Senior Irish officials have been invited by the US delegation to Mr Trump's golf club, including the Irish government's special envoy to the US, John Deasy, and Ireland's ambassador to the US, Dan Mulhall.

Mr Trump is expected to play golf on Friday before flying back to the US.

More on this story