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Dublin: 14 °C Tuesday 7 April, 2020
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US Vice President Mike Pence has touched down in Ireland

Pence will meet with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tomorrow as well as President Michael D Higgins during his visit.

Rose Hynes, Chairman Shannon Group, Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD, Vice President of the United States of America Mr Mike Pence and Mayor of Clare Cllr Cathal Crowe TD on the Vice Presidents arrival at Shannon Airport today.
Rose Hynes, Chairman Shannon Group, Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD, Vice President of the United States of America Mr Mike Pence and Mayor of Clare Cllr Cathal Crowe TD on the Vice Presidents arrival at Shannon Airport today.
Image: Arthur Ellis

US VICE PRESIDENT Mike Pence has touched down in Ireland this afternoon. 

Air Force Two, the plane which carries the vice president and the second lady landed in Shannon Airport at around 4.30pm this afternoon.

Pence will meet with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tomorrow as well as President Michael D Higgins during his visit.

The meeting with Varadkar for lunch and talks will take place in Farmleigh House with Varadkar saying today that his parents and partner Matt Barrett will also be present. 

Pence is arriving in Shannon early this evening and will stay overnight in Trump Doonbeg – the Co Clare golf resort owned by the president where Trump himself visited earlier this year. 

Varadkar and his partner Matt Barrett met with Pence during the Taoiseach’s St Patrick’s Day visit to the US earlier this year.

The Taoiseach extended an invitation to Pence, who has strong ancestral roots in Ireland, at that engagement in the Vice President’s Washington home. 

Tomorrow’s visit is expected to be met with protests in Dublin – including one organised by Amnesty Ireland at the gates of the Dáil. 

The NGO is hosting a ‘Disco at the Dáil’ to mark the presence of Pence, who has long been criticised for his positions on LGBT rights and abortion.  

Protester

But not everyone was happy to see the vice president. 

Clare poet Sarah Clancy was stopped by gardaí at Shannon Airport this afternoon as she tried to make her way towards the terminal carrying two placards.

Bellharbour-based 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, Clancy said: “That’s what I was hoping for but they (gardaí) asked me to move away from the area which I did.”

“Mike Pence should not be honoured. I very much fear that in years to come people will wish they stood up against this regime. Ireland 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?” Clancy added.

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 filter for fascists” and “Queers against Pence”.

pence protestor Protester demonstrates against Mike Pence today. Source: Pat Flynn

“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,” 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.

With reporting by Pat Flynn and Daragh Brophy 

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