US vice president Mike Pence’s trip to Ireland set to be brought forward

US vice president Mike Pence’s visit to Ireland next week is set to be brought forward to Monday.

The Republican’s two-day trip to Dublin and Co Clare was originally scheduled for Friday and Saturday next week.

However, after the White House announced that Mr Pence would be travelling to Poland this weekend in place of US President Donald Trump, the vice president will be in Europe earlier than expected.

It is understood he will arrive in Shannon Airport on Monday.

A government spokesperson said: “Due to a change in the Vice President’s schedule, VP Mike Pence will meet with the Taoiseach on Tuesday instead of Friday.”

United States Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen
United States Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen (PA)

Mr Trump cancelled his trip to Poland to deal with Hurricane Dorian, which is expected to make landfall in Florida over the coming days.

Last month, Mr Pence spoke of how he was looking forward to celebrating his Irish roots as the country is “very near to his family’s heart”.

The White House previously confirmed said that Mr Pence would be in the UK on September 4 and 5 to discuss Brexit, Iran and the “threat of Chinese malign influence”, and that he would travel to Ireland to meet the Irish president Michael D Higgins and Irish premier Leo Varadkar.

The White House said that during his trip to Ireland, the vice president would voice the United States’s “commitment to maintaining peace, prosperity, and stability in Ireland by upholding the Good Friday Agreement”.

He would also discuss trade, investment and strengthening the economic relationship between the two nations.

The vice president’s trip comes three months after Mr Trump visited Ireland for the first time as president.

His visit was met with protests in Dublin and in Shannon.

The Pence family visits Ireland regularly, but Mr Pence himself has not visited since becoming vice president.

Mr Pence’s mother, Nancy, is a first-generation Irish-American.

The Indiana native’s ancestors on his mother’s side came from Doonbeg, in Co Clare, the same village where Mr Trump owns a golf course.

Mr Pence also has ancestors from Tubbercurry, Co Sligo.

In March, Mr Varadkar and his partner Dr Matt Barrett met with the vice president at his official residence in Washington DC as part of his annual St Patrick’s Day tour to the US.

It came after Mr Pence, who describes himself as a Christian and a conservative, extended an invitation to the couple during a meeting with Mr Varadkar last year.

During the visit to Mr Pence’s home, Mr Varadkar said he was not judged by his sexual orientation but by his political actions.

Mr Pence is a controversial figure and has been particularly criticised over his stance on LGBTQ rights.

Mr Varadkar is Ireland’s first openly gay leader and one of very few openly gay national leaders in the world.

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