During a press conference with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar just minutes after landing at Shannon Airport, Trump was asked by a reporter about the complications Brexit had caused for the border between the north and south.
An optimistic Trump said he believed Brexit would work out “very well” but then referred to the border as “your wall, your border.” There is, of course, no wall between the two parts of the island — and the border is invisible, with no security infrastructure or checkpoints.
The comment prompted an intervention from an uncomfortable-looking Varadkar who told the American president that Ireland would like “to avoid a border or wall.”
The possibility of a ‘hard border’ following Brexit has caused worries in Ireland, where the border was indeed heavily militarized by British Army and a focal point of violence during 30 years of political and sectarian conflict in the northern six counties.
Trump touched down at Shannon Airport in the West of Ireland on Wednesday. Following bilateral talks with Varadkar, he is expected to fly by helicopter to his Trump International Golf Links and Hotel resort outside the coastal town of Doonbeg. He was expected to receive a warm welcome at the tiny seaside town, where he is praised for creating jobs and boosting tourism.
It hasn’t been all warm welcomes, however. Environmental and anti-war groups set up a “peace camp” outside the airport to protest his arrival. The groups taking part are regular protesters outside Shannon Airport, who complain about its use by the US military for refueling en route way to conflict zones in the Middle East.
Varadkar told reporters after the joint press conference that Trump “understands” the need to keep the border open and believes that it “can be done.”