herald

Friday 20 September 2019

US Secret Service agents to fly into Ireland ahead of 'June visit' by Trump

US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump

US Secret Service agents could be flying into Ireland ahead of a possible visit by Donald Trump later this year.

The Herald understands White House staffers and sec- urity officials will focus on the US president's west coast golf course at Doonbeg.

It is believed Mr Trump will visit the resort as early as June.

If the visit does go ahead, Mr Trump may not see a great deal of Ireland as he could be confined to his sprawling Co Clare hotel for security reasons.

Mr Trump has previously said he intends to visit Ireland some time this year.

There has been intense speculation that he will use a planned trip to Europe in June to make a stop here.

Mr Trump is visiting Europe to attend commemorations marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day on the coast of northern France. He will also make a state visit to Britain.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar suggested last month that Mr Trump might like to combine a visit to Ireland with his Euro- pean trip.

Alternatively, Mr Varadkar said it could come when the president attends a Nato summit in London in December.

A US source said a "final call" on whether Mr Trump's trip to Ireland will take place in June has not been made.

Unusual

He added that the possibility of the trip remains "50-50".

However, he said "advance teams may be in Co Clare" as early as this week.

It would not be unusual for a decision to be made after that.

Last night, an Irish Government spokesman said: "There is a long-standing invitation to the US president to visit Ireland, and he has indicated that he hopes to do so at some stage this year.

"However, we have not had any indication that President Trump is considering visiting Ireland in June."

Mr Trump revealed his hope to come to Ireland this year during Mr Varadkar's visit to Washington in March for the St Patrick's Day festivities.

He said: "I'll be coming at some point during the year. I missed it last time, but I would have loved to have been there. It's a special place."

He said he had a "warm spot" for Doonbeg. "It's just a great place," he added.

It was reported last week that it might be "easier" if Mr Trump met Mr Varadkar at Doonbeg rather than travel to Dublin, where there would be a need for heightened security.

A source said there was precedence for holding bilateral meetings outside of Dublin - former US president George W Bush met Bertie Ahern at Dromoland Castle in Co Clare in 2004.

Mr Trump could meet the Taoiseach in Farmleigh before flying on to Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Doonbeg.

Last year, the Government was blindsided by the ann- ouncement that Mr Trump planned to come here.

It was similarly left in the dark when he called off the visit. He later said he was disappointed not to visit Ireland.

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