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Mike Pence departs from Shannon as two-day Irish visit ends

Pence took a stronger line on Brexit during this trip than many had expected.

Updated Sep 4th 2019, 12:36 PM

US VICE PRESIDENT Mike Pence has flown out of Shannon this morning, as his two-day Irish visit comes to an end.

Tweet by @Shannon Airport Source: Shannon Airport/Twitter

The Irish leg of his European trip was brought forward after a reorganisation of his schedule was confirmed last Friday. 

He will continue his trip this week with visits to Iceland and London, where he is due to hold a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. 

Pence took a stronger line than expected on Brexit in his joint remarks with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Farmleigh yesterday afternoon – telling his host that Ireland and the EU should negotiate “in good faith” with Johnson to find a solution to the ongoing impasse. 

Speaking after the two leaders held a bilateral meeting, Varadkar said in his remarks that Ireland must “stand our ground” on the withdrawal agreement negotiated between the EU and Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May. 

He asked Pence, as they stood at separate podiums in front of a small army of Irish and American reporters, to “bring that message back to Washington with you”. 

Pence said that while he recognised the “unique challenges” posed by the border he encouraged Ireland and the UK to work together. 

He went on to call on Ireland and the EU to negotiate in good faith with Johnson to secure a deal that “respects the UK’s sovereignty”. 

vp usa 73-3_90578939 Pence and Varadkar take to their podiums at Farmleigh. Pence's comments on Brexit were stronger than many had been expecting. Source: Sam Boal

The Vice President has faced criticism from back home in recent days over his decision to stay in Donald Trump’s Doonbeg resort while in Ireland – a location some 290km from his main official engagements. 

The use of Trump’s various properties by the president, his entourage, and officials of other governments has been the subject of recurrent criticism in the US. 

California congressman Ted Lieu accused Pence in a tweet of “funnelling taxpayer money” to Trump by staying in the Co Clare resort. 

Asked if Trump had asked Pence to stay there, the vice president’s chief of staff Marc Short told reporters it wasn’t “like a command.”

“I think that it was a suggestion,” Short said.

He said Pence planned to go to Doonbeg because his family was from there so Trump offered, “Well, you should stay at my place”.

Besides, he said, the Secret Service has protected the facility “so they sort of know the realities, they know the logistics around that facility”.

Pence himself said yesterday that as Doonbeg was a fairly small place, the opportunity to stay at the Trump hotel “to accommodate the unique footprint that comes with our security detail and other personnel, made it logical”.

Tweet by @Mark Knoller Source: Mark Knoller/Twitter

Shannon Airport had advised passengers to allow for delays of around 15 minutes up until noon today. 

A spokesperson said in an advisory issued earlier this week: “If passengers have any concerns about the departure time of their flight they are advised to contact their airline.  As always we would like to thank our valued customers for flying Shannon.”

- Includes reporting from AFP

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Daragh Brophy

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