Ireland's prime minister denied Trump a photo op at his Irish golf course, report says, and met him in an airport lounge instead

Pool/Getty ImagesUS President Donald Trump and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar at Shannon Airport on Wednesday.
  • Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, met US President Donald Trump at an airport lounge on Wednesday, having reportedly rejected a proposal to meet at Trump’s Irish golf course.
  • The Irish Times reported in May that the Irish government had pushed back on Trump’s desire to meet at his golf course in Doonbeg. Varadkar and Trump ended up in Shannon Airport instead.
  • A reporter at a press conference on Wednesday asked Trump whether he was there to promote his golf course. Trump responded that he “really wanted” to visit Ireland.
  • Visit Business Insider’s home page for more stories.

Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, met US President Donald Trump at an airport lounge on Wednesday, reportedly after rejecting Trump’s wish for the two leaders to meet at his Irish golf course.

Varadkar met Trump at the VIP lounge at Shannon Airport in western Ireland following the president’s state visit to the UK.

The Irish Times reported in May, when the details of Trump’s visit were being finalised, that Trump was pushing for the meeting to be held at his course in the town of Doonbeg.

It said Irish officials were “reluctant” to meet there and instead advocated another location.


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Ireland’s prime minister says protest ‘is allowed and is welcomed’ when Trump visits

The decision meant Trump was unable to attract as much media attention to his stay at Doonbeg, with reporters keen to see him meet the taoiseach, as the prime minister is called in Ireland.

Citing a White House source, The Irish Times said Trump had considered visiting Scotland instead of Ireland.

Trump is staying at the golf course, which he bought in 2014, during his two-day visit. Trump visited Normandy, France, for D-Day commemoration events on Thursday, but he’s due to return to Doonbeg on Thursday night.

Lodge at DoonbegLodge at DoonbegTrump’s golf course in Doonbeg, Ireland.

Trump was asked by a reporter on Wednesday if the purpose of visiting Ireland was to promote his golf course, which, according to an Irish Times report last year, has never made a profit.

“I really wanted to do this stop in Ireland,” Trump said. “It was very important to me because of the relationship I have with the people and with your prime minister.”

Varadkar and Trump have met before, including last year in Washington, DC, for St. Patrick’s Day.

During his Wednesday meeting with Varadkar, Trump compared Ireland’s desire to avoid border infrastructure between Ireland and Northern Ireland when the UK leaves the European Union to his desire to build a border wall between the US and Mexico.


Read more:
Trump compares Ireland’s potential Brexit border to Mexico ‘wall’

“It will all work out very well, and also for you with your wall, your border,” he said at a joint press conference with Varadkar. “I mean, we have a border situation in the United States, and you have one over here. But I hear it’s going to work out very well.”

Leo Varadkar Donald Trump Meliana Trump Shannon AirportPool/Getty ImagesTrump signing a visitor book as Varadkar and first lady Melania Trump watch.

Varadkar said that the “main thing” Ireland wants to avoid is a border between the two countries.

He later told reporters that he did not expect Trump to have a deep understanding of the issue.

“He’s the president of America, and there are nearly 200 countries in the world, so I don’t think it’s possible for him to have an in-depth understanding of issues in every single country, which is why this engagement is important,” Varadkar said.

“He is in favour of Brexit, as you know, and we’re not,” Varadkar added. “But he understands that a major issue is the border between north and south, and he shares our objective to keep the border open as it is now, respecting the Good Friday Agreement.”

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