Last year, Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, ensnared himself in controversy when he suggested that he had helped prevent wind farms from being built near the golf course of US President Donald Trump in Ireland.
Varadkar is hoping to avoid that kind of storm this year, and the Brexit chaos in the United Kingdom will likely give him a helping hand.
He is scheduled to meet the US president at the White House today, as part of a long-standing tradition that is associated with the celebrations of St Patrick’s Day in the United States.
Last Wednesday, Varadkar said that he wanted to remind the political leaders of the US that Ireland is a “good and reliable partner for the United States” — one that “is certain about its place in the world, when perhaps other countries are not and are somewhat in chaos.”
He has also indicated that he will talk about the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which ushered in 20 years of relative peace and stability on the island of Ireland after decades of conflict that is known simply as the Troubles.
Today, Varadkar and his partner met Mike Pence, the US vice president, for breakfast during which Pence and his mother were invited to visit Ireland. Pence said that he would make plans to visit the home of his grandfather in Tubbercurry in County Sligo.
Pence has been criticised for his support of anti-LGBT policies. Last year, he told the openly gay Varadkar that he would be welcome to bring his partner.
The vice president said that the US “stands by” Ireland as it deals with the UK’s departure from the European Union. He also said that he was looking forward to a future trade deal between the US and the EU.
The comments of Pence came shortly after Trump tweeted about negotiating a “large-scale trade deal with the United Kingdom.”
Outside of the EU, the US is considered as the biggest trading partner of the UK, with more than £66bn ($87.4bn) worth of trade between the countries.
However, Varadkar said that he will inform Trump that he is not asking him to “take sides” between Ireland and the UK. Instead, he will ask him to guarantee that “no trade deal that is done with the UK should ever undermine the [Northern Ireland] peace process.”
With that in mind, Varadkar stated that he would welcome the appointment of a US special envoy to Northern Ireland, like what was first done during the presidency of Bill Clinton.
He stated: “We know historically that when the United States has taken an interest in the affairs of Northern Ireland it has helped bring peace to conclusion so that will certainly be welcome.”
George Mitchell, the former envoy, chaired the discussions that resulted in the Good Friday Agreement.
In the 30 years before its signing, clashes between republicans and loyalists took the lives of approximately 3,600 people.
Varadkar is also set to address the status of undocumented Irish people in the US, as well as the delay in the extension of E3 visas to the citizens of Ireland.