Irish Prime Minister Leo Vrakdkar had to clear the air after President Donald Trump suggested a border wall for the European nation.
Trump met with Vradkar at the Shannon Airport in Ireland on Wednesday. Before their private meeting, the two leaders appeared in front of reporters and summarized the purpose of their meeting.
“Probably, you’ll ask me about Brexit because I just left some very good people who are very involved with Brexit, as you know,” Trump said, referring to his recent trip to the United Kingdom. “And I think that’ll all work out, it’ll all work out very well and also for you with your wall, your border.”
The president then compared Ireland’s border with that between the U.S. and Mexico but assured reporters and the prime minister he thought Ireland’s situation is “going to work out very well.”
Varadkar stepped in and corrected the president.
“The main thing we want to avoid, of course, is a border or wall,” he said.
Trump quickly corrected himself.
“I think you do, I think you do,” he said. “The way it works now is good, you want to try and keep it that way. I know that’s a big point of contention with respect to Brexit is your border. I’m sure it’s going to work out well. I know they’re focused very heavily on it.”
Watch the video below:
“For you with your wall, with your border…we have a border situation in the United States and you have one here.”
President Trump compares Ireland's Brexit border issue with the USA's – but Irish PM Leo Varadkar says “the main thing we want to avoid…is a border or wall”. pic.twitter.com/80iucZV2ZR
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) June 5, 2019
Ireland’s land border with Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., is one of the biggest points of contention in the Brexit deal.
It’s the U.K.’s only land border. Currently, there is practical free-flow between the two countries, and physical marks of a border are nearly nonexistent.
But the current easy and peaceful border is a far cry from what it was nearly 20 years ago. From 1968 to 1998, there was a hard border between the countries, as ideological differences turned to violence between the majority-Catholic nationalist Irish and the majority-protestant unionist Northern Irish. Violence during that time, known as “The Troubles,” is estimated to have taken the lives of 3,600 people.
The two countries entered an era of peace following the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, but now Irish and British alike fear that establishing a hard border, such as a wall like Trump mentioned, could revitalize the clashes.
In fact, 56 percent of people in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU in the Brexit vote.
“I think ultimately [Brexit] could be very, very good for Ireland,” Trump said Wednesday. “The border will work out.”