Mike Pence expected in Ireland on September 6th

US vice-president’s ancestors hailed from Doonbeg, Co Clare, where Trump has golf course

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his partner Matt Barrett with US vice-president Mike Pence and his sister Anne Pence Poynter at the vice-president’s official residence in Washington DC in March. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his partner Matt Barrett with US vice-president Mike Pence and his sister Anne Pence Poynter at the vice-president’s official residence in Washington DC in March. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

Preparations are intensifying for US vice-president Mike Pence’s visit to Ireland next month, with the Indiana native expected to arrive in Dublin on Friday September 6th for a two-day visit.

While it had been expected that Mr Pence would arrive earlier in the week, he is now due to arrive towards the end of the first week of September, following visits to Iceland and Britain.

It is envisaged that Mr Pence’s visit will begin in Dublin, and he is expected to meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Farmleigh in the Phoenix Park. A courtesy call with President Michael D Higgins is also under consideration.

Mr Pence is expected to then fly to Shannon later that day, though preparations are still at planning stage. A meeting with Tánaiste Simon Coveney is also likely to form part of the agenda.

While a visit to Blarney, Co Cork had been originally considered, it is expected that the US vice-president will instead base himself in the Co Clare area. Mr Pence’s ancestors on his mother’s side hailed from Doonbeg, Co Clare, the same village where US president Donald Trump has a golf course. It is not clear if Mr Pence will stay at the Trump property while in the area.

Members of Mr Pence’s extended family may also join him on the trip.

Mr Pence’s grandfather, Richard Michael Cawley, left Tubbercurry in Co Sligo in the 1920s. He arrived at Ellis Island and eventually settled in Chicago. The vice-president has regularly spoken about the influence of his mother’s father on his life. His grandmother, the wife of Richard Cawley, was an Irish-American whose family hailed from Doonbeg.

Mr Pence, a former member of congress and governor of Indiana, was chosen by Mr Trump to become his running-mate in July 2016. In January 2017, he was sworn-in as vice-president.

His visit comes less than three months since Mr Trump visited Ireland, his first visit as president. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the most senior Democrat in Congress, visited Ireland in April.

The US vice-president’s visit will not be without controversy.

Evangelical

Though raised as a Catholic, Mr Pence became an evangelical Christian and has previously expressed his opposition to gay marriage. He hosted Mr Varadkar and his partner Matt for the traditional St Patrick’s Day breakfast in Washington in March. At the breakfast, Mr Varadkar extended an invitation to Mr Pence to visit Ireland.

Mr Varadkar also referenced his own cultural and sexual identity during a short speech at the event.

“I stand here this morning as leader of my country, flawed and human, but judged by my political actions and not by my sexual orientation or my skin tone or my gender or religious beliefs.

“And I don’t believe my country is the only one in the world where this story is possible.

“It is found in every country where freedom and liberty are cherished. We are after all, all God’s children.”

Mr Pence visited Ireland for the first time in the early 1980s and had visited regularly since, often with members of his family. Speaking at the annual St Patrick’s Day dinner of the Ireland Funds, which honoured Mr Pence shortly after his appointment as vice-president, he recalled his grandfather’s journey from Ireland to the US. “All that I am, all that I will ever be and all the service that I will ever give is owed to my Irish heritage,” he said.

While Mr Pence was praised for the warm reception he gave the visiting Taoiseach and his partner in March, he was criticised for supporting a religious freedom Bill while governor of Indiana, which opponents said targeted gay and lesbian people.