In Brief

Trump compares Irish border to planned Mexico wall

Gaffe comes on day one of the US president’s visit to Ireland

Donald Trump has raised eyebrows by comparing his planned wall between the United States and Mexico with the post-Brexit border situation in Ireland. 

Speaking about the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, alongside Irish premier Leo Varadkar yesterday, the US president said: “I think that it will all work out, it will all work out very well and also for you, with your wall, your border.”

He added: “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.”

Varadkar quickly reminded Trump that Ireland wants to avoid a hard border with Northern Ireland after Brexit. Trump replied: “The way it works now is good and I think you want to try and keep it that way.”

The Irish Times says there was a “Melania-like quality” to Varadkar’s “sangfroid in face of Trump’s witless remarks”, while Irish News said the “gaffe” came because Trump was “badly briefed”.

Later, Varadkar said he had explained to Trump the “different nature” of the two border debates. He said: “I explained... that everyone in Ireland - north and south, unionist and nationalist - want to avoid a return to a hard border, but that Brexit is a threat in that regard and an unintended consequence that we can’t allow.”

He added: “There are nearly 200 countries in the world. I don’t think it’s possible for him to have an in-depth and detailed understanding of all the issues in every single country.”

Meanwhile, Trump has denied that his two-day visit to Ireland is purely a public relations exercise for his golf resort in Doonbeg, County Clare, saying he is “honoured” to be in the country. He added that the relationship between Ireland and the US is “as good as it’s ever been, maybe better”.

He said that there were “millions” of Irish people in the US and added: “I think I know most of them because they’re my friends. We love the Irish, so it’s an honour to be here.”

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