Disagreement over the location of a possible meeting between US president Donald Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has thrown a potential visit to Co Clare by the president into doubt.
The Trump administration had been considering a visit to Ireland between the president’s trips to Britain and France in June. But disagreement has emerged over protocol issues.
While the Taoiseach’s preference is to meet Mr Trump in Co Clare, Irish officials are reluctant to meet the US president in his golf course in Doonbeg. Instead, the Government has pressed for a meeting in another location, preferably Dromoland Castle, located 50km away.
One White House source told The Irish Times on Thursday that the president was now favouring a visit to Scotland rather than Ireland during his European trip. But sources in Dublin on Thursday said they believed the Irish visit would still go ahead.
The White House has not publicly announced any plans to visit Ireland or Scotland, though the visit to Britain and France is confirmed.
The unique nature of a potential visit – a US president visiting his own private property in Ireland – has thrown up complex issues around protocol, and whether it constitutes a private or official visit.
While a trip to Scotland would not involve the president engaging in official activities, given that he will have already met the British prime minister and Queen Elizabeth during his state visit to Britain, a visit to Ireland would necessitate some formal engagement with the Government.
The US president has said that he plans to visit Ireland this year.
“I will be coming at some point this year,” he said alongside the Taoiseach in the Oval Office in March.