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Leo Varadkar presents Donald Trump with bowl of shamrock in St Patrick's Day ceremony

Varadkar was speaking at the St Patrick’s Day ceremony at the White House.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar presents US President Donald Trump with a bowl of shamrock as Melania Trump looks on during the annual presentation ceremony at the White House.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar presents US President Donald Trump with a bowl of shamrock as Melania Trump looks on during the annual presentation ceremony at the White House.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has handed a bowl of shamrock to US president Donald Trump keeping up the strong annual tradition between the two countries.

Both men gave speeches touting the important historic ties between the two Ireland and the US going back generations ahead of the annul St Patrick’s Day tradition.

Varadkar trumpeted Ireland’s long-standing relationship with the US and mentioned the plight of undocumented Irish in America and the strong trade between both countries in his speech at the White House today.

Trump, for his part, said that he “loved the Irish” and talked about the strong influence the Irish have had on the US over the years.

“It’s my great honour to receive this magnificent bowl of Ireland’s great shamrocks,” Trump said.

He said that the Irish were people “full of love, warmth, grit and resolve” and that it was “closely woven into our own”.

Trump talked about the “shared bonds” both countries and of how eight of the US founding fathers had Irish heritage.

“The US has truly been blessed with the luck of the Irish to have you with us today,” said Trump.

He said Varadkar would likely be back for the next seven years. Seven years is the term of the presidency in Ireland, while the term of a government (and therefore the Taoiseach) is maximum five years.

Varadkar’s speech

In his own speech after Trump, Varadkar referenced past presidents and the relationship between both countries that stretched back centuries.

“The portrait of your first President, George Washington, looks down on us here in the East Room. President Washington called Ireland the ‘friend of my country in my country’s most friendless days’,” Varadkar said.

We supported the cause of American freedom from the very start – we shed our blood to help make it a reality.

Varadkar said that in the same was, the US had “helped build modern Ireland”.

“One that is prosperous and at peace, self-confident about our place in the world, no longer an island on the periphery of Europe, but an island at the centre of the world,” he said.

Varadkar also referenced Abraham Lincoln – “the first Republican president” – and the American poet Walt Whitman.

Diaspora

He went on the mention the many Irish people who have emigrated to the US throughout the years, as well as the Irish Diaspora.

“Today the Irish Diaspora is found in every state, every city, every neighbourhood in this country,” Varadkar said.

“We have prospered in politics, in business, in the arts, and in the service of fellow Americans. Many are here today.

Many Irish serve today in The White House.

Varadkar also mentioned the many undocumented Irish living in the US and the hopes that some sort of agreement could be reached for them.

“I know that the Irish people who have made their lives here, including those who are undocumented and living in the shadows, love this country dearly,” said Varadkar.

“They have the same dream as the men and women who inspired Washington, fought for Lincoln, and work alongside you today.

They want to continue to contribute to the life of this great country, and continue to play their part. Their dream will never die.

He said that the Irish government would “continue to work with your Administration to find a solution to this important issue”.

He also said Ireland was “willing to match any move with the same or better for Americans in Ireland”.

“The best relationship between two countries is a fair transaction, with something given and received on both sides.

A good deal – you might say.

Business

Varadkar said that Ireland could “act as a bridge between this great country and the European Union”.

“And, more than ever, we are a strong and effective partner for you,” he said.

He said how the economic relationship between both countries was “a two-way street”.

“Irish firms employ more than 100,000 people here across all 50 states,” he said.

“Since you took office, Mr President, 59 Irish companies have made new investments in this country. We are bringing jobs, good jobs.

“Each and every week we trade $2 billion in goods and services back and forth across the Atlantic. We want that to grow.”

He then presented the bowl of shamrocks to Trump.

With reporting from Christina Finn at the White House

Read: Varadkar says Trump is open to finding a solution for the illegal Irish in the US

Read: Questions raised after Taoiseach reveals phone call with Trump about Doonbeg wind farm four years ago

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About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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