Leo Varadkar says Ireland wants to 'avoid a wall' after Trump's speech about the Irish border

Andy Gregory
Thursday 06 June 2019 09:30
news

Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK was unsurprisingly full of controversial statements, whether it be denouncing London’s mayor as a “stone cold loser”, discussions about whether Meghan Markle was “nasty” to him, or his announcement that NHS would be “on the table” in any future trade deal.

While the above was more or less what we’ve come to expect from the current US president, he waited until he got to Ireland to make arguably his most baffling comment.

Sitting at a press conference next to Ireland’s Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, Mr Trump waded into one of Brexit’s most contentious issues – that of the Irish border.

Taking the famed Trump approach of making things all about him, he compared the highly sensitive subject of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland to his own much-maligned wall project on the US-Mexico border.

 I think [Brexit] will all work out very well, 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 work out very well … it’s going to work out very well here.

A bemused Mr Varadkar was forced to clarify in response:

The thing we want to avoid, of course, is a border wall.

The Irish premier has previously insisted that the UK needs to avoid a hard border in order to fulfil its obligations under the Good Friday Agreement - the historic peace accord that signalled an end to decades of violence.

Northern Ireland still grapples with the memories of "peace walls", many of which have stood in Belfast for several decades in response to sectarian violence. Projects to take the three-metre-high structures down are underway.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump rose to power in 2016 with a campaign largely focused on building a wall along the entirety of the US-Mexico border, scapegoating immigrants and asylum-seekers as "drug dealers", "rapists" and "criminals".

He has previously shut down the US government over funding for his wall - threatening vital services - and is currently threatening Mexico with tariffs if they don't curb immigration, although has so far given no indication of what target would satisfy him.

Today, the president will speak in Normandy at a D-Day memorial and is expected to describe the Allied troops who fought as "citizens of free and independent nations, united by their duty to their compatriots and to millions yet unborn".

Americans were also shocked to discover that during the president's one-day trip to Ireland, during which he played a round of golf at his own Doonbeg course, he managed to spend nearly $1 million (£788,000) of taxpayers' money on four limousines.

Read more: What all the key politicians think about the Irish border question

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