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Republican Congressman linked to Trump's travel ban to be honoured at Irish-American event

Leo Varadkar said he is comfortable with tonight’s event, stating he doesn’t have to agree 100% with everyone’s views.

Leo Varadkar sitting next to Congressman Peter King at an event last night to mark the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
Leo Varadkar sitting next to Congressman Peter King at an event last night to mark the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
Image: Niall Carson

PETER KING, A US Republican who has supported Donald Trump’s travel ban is to be honoured at a special dinner in Washington DC tonight attended by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Peter King, a congressman from New York and a long-time Sinn Féin supporter, said in an interview with Politico.com last year that he fully supports the US president’s executive order halting immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

When Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was asked today if he was comfortable with King being honoured at tonight’s gala dinner, he said:

“I am comfortable. I attend meetings and events I don’t 100% agree with all the time. I even form coalitions with people I don’t agree with sometimes.”

Work on the peace process

The Taoiseach paid tribute to the work King had done in the past on the Northern Ireland peace process.

“Bear in mind, above all things Peter King has been a very good friend to Ireland and we need friends in this place and that overrides differences we may have over other issues,” he added.

Sinn Féin was criticised last year for its ties to the congressman who said in an interview the travel ban was a measure that was “long overdue”.

Last year, in an interview with TheJournal.ie, former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said:

“I disagree with Peter King profoundly on many, many other issues.”

In 2016, the congressman said he would rather take cyanide that back Ted Cruz as a candidate for US president – however, he also called Trump “reckless”.

Congressman Richard Neal is also being honoured at the event this evening.

Recently Neal and King urged the (now departed) Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to retain the position of a special US envoy to Northern Ireland.

Both congressman signed a letter stating that it would be a “serious mistake” to eliminate the position.

Earlier this month, Simon Coveney had a meeting with Tillerson, where it was confirmed that the US administration would retain the position.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald confirmed today that work is underway by the US State Department to make an appointment shortly.

TheJournal.ie’s political reporter Christina Finn will be bringing you all the latest updates from Leo Varadkar’s visit to Washington this week, including his meeting with US President Donald Trump on Thursday. Stay up-to-date by following @ChristinaFinn8@TJ_Politics  and TheJournal.ie’s Facebook page.

Read: Mary Lou on not being invited to the White House: ‘I don’t feel snubbed’ >

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