Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has met with US Vice President Mike Pence on St Patrick’s Day in Washington – but barred media from attending the secretive meeting.
Pence, is seen as a social conservative and has been outspoken on his anti-gay views.
But on Friday (16 March), Pence met with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who is the country’s first openly gay leader, to mark St Patrick’s Day.
The Taioseach revealed that he would be bringing up the issue of LGBT rights to the US number two when they held the US’ annual St Patrick’s Day meeting in Washington DC
Mike Pence bans media from his meeting with openly-gay Irish PM
They pair met along with Donald Trump and other officials at Pence’s Naval Observatory residence.
But following reports of Varadkar’s agenda, Pence ‘banned all media’ from being present at the meeting.
Ahead of the event, Pence stipulated that the media were only allowed to capture the arrival of the pair outside Pence’s residence.
As the politicians exchanged greetings, Mr Pence ignored questions from reporters as to why the engagement was private, reports The Press Association.
Honored to have joined @POTUS as we welcomed Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar to the @WhiteHouse today. Productive meetings with him & enjoyed celebrating the strong partnership between the U.S & Ireland at the #FriendsOfIreland Lunch & the annual Shamrock Exchange. pic.twitter.com/kz8MSGsxLd
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) March 16, 2018
Before his arrival, Mr Varadkar expressed disappointment at the media ban on Thursday. But he added:
‘It allows us maybe to have a frank conversation that’s easier to have without the media present.’
‘I think mother is looking at the Irish Prime Minister with bedroom eyes.’
However, many criticized the secret nature of the meeting, condemning Pence for ‘refusing’ to have his picture taken with Varadkar.
Firstly You are clearly not honored to have my Taoiseach as you refused to get a photo with him because of his sexuality.
Secondly you celebrate the Irish culture and the distance your ancestors travelled.Try to remember that as you turn people away from America.#StPatricksDay
— Mary (pippylo) (@pippylow) March 16, 2018
‘Firstly You are clearly not honored to have my Taoiseach as you refused to get a photo with him because of his sexuality.
‘Secondly you celebrate the Irish culture and the distance your ancestors travelled.
‘Try to remember that as you turn people away from America.#StPatricksDay.’
And so are you…
— Dani G 📎🆘 (@DaniG999) March 16, 2018
Another user commented on the picture of Varadkar and Pence, pointing out the expression on the face of a delegate.
‘I think Mother is looking at the Irish Prime Minister with bedroom eyes.
‘And so are you…’, said the user.
Before the meeting, Varadkar pointed out to the Irish Times that America is where the LGBTI rights movement began.
America is where the LGBTI rights movement began.
‘It’s really tough to see a country built on freedom, build on individual freedom, not being a world leader in that space anymore.’
‘I think the majority of American people would agree with what I have to say, even if the administration doesn’t.’