Speaking at yesterday’s traditional ceremony, during which he presented US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania with a customary bowl of shamrock, Leo Varadkar praised the Trump presidency while stressing the importance of American values.
Concluding a packed day which included breakfast at the Vice-President’s home and the annual Speaker’s Lunch on Capitol Hill, the Taoiseach gave a speech to the assembled crowd reflecting on American history and the economic ties between Ireland and the US.
After discussing past US presidents, he went on to praise his host. “Your ambition is to make America great again,” he told Trump, “and we can see the results today. The American economy is booming. More jobs. Rising incomes. Exactly what you said you’d do.”
“However,” he said, “I believe the greatness of America is about more than economic prowess and military might. It is rooted in the things that make us love America: your people, your values, a new nation conceived in liberty. The land and the home of the brave and the free.”
Varadkar emphasised the promise represented by America for past generations, saying “The promise of America inspired those seeking liberty and freedom around the world, including in my own country.” He acknowledged the millions of Irish people who have emigrated from Ireland to the US, inspired by its values, and “were among the hands that built America.”
He offered words of caution for the Trump presidency, saying “And we know and trust, that making America great again will not mean forgetting or losing sight of what makes it great already.”
The Taoiseach’s speech stressed the economic ties between Ireland and the US and expressed hopes for greater freedom of movement between the two countries. Varadkar thanked Trump and his administration for supporting a new E3 visa programme, which will allow a limited number of Irish people to travel to the US for work. The visa scheme is currently only open to Australians.
Varadkar has used his time with President Trump to raise issues surrounding the impact of Brexit on Ireland and to explore possibilities for an EU-US trade deal. Tomorrow, he will travel to Chicago to continue his St Patrick’s Day visit.
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