Donald Trump has said the future of the Irish border after Brexit will “work out well” as he appeared to compare the situation here with the US-Mexico border.
The world’s most powerful man expressed optimism for the future of Northern Ireland, despite the ongoing impasse between the leading parties.
Political talks aimed at resurrecting the powersharing government at Stormont continued on Wednesday.
Former US president Bill Clinton was regarded as having played a key role in encouraging the negotiations which led to the Belfast Agreement in 1998.
During his first official visit to Ireland as US president, Mr Trump was asked about his nation’s role as a guarantor of peace in the region.
President Trump said he believes the decision over who will replace Theresa May as prime minister is “very important”.
“Once that happens, that person will get in and try to make a deal and maybe if they don’t make a deal, they do it in a different way but I know one thing, Ireland is going to be in great shape, Ireland is a special place that’s going to be in very good shape,” he said.
Addressing media during a meeting with Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Mr Trump said: “Probably you’ll ask me about Brexit because I just left some very good people who are very much involved with Brexit as you know, and I think it will all work out very well.”
He continued: “And also for you, with your wall, your border — we have a border situation in the United States and you have one over here, but I hear it’s going to work out very well.”
Mr Varadkar interjected to make clear that the Irish government is hoping to avoid “a border or wall” between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Mr Trump replied: “I think you do, I think you do. The way it works now is good, you want to try and keep it that way.”
In a joint statement on Sunday, Prime Minister Theresa May and Irish premier Leo Varadkar said talks to agree the return of Stormont were to “intensify”.
On Monday, a preliminary meeting between the main Stormont parties and the British and Irish governments in Belfast lasted around 25 minutes - but the pace was expected to be stepped up this week.
There were party bilateral talks, working group meetings and a leader level working group meeting at Stormont House on Wednesday.
In a statement afterwards, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the “positive engagement between parties has continued”.
“We remain optimistic that a deal to restore power sharing is possible,” he said.
“It’s important, however, that the positivity shifts quickly into political pragmatism.
“Honourable compromise has always been the path to progress here. This will be no different.”
Powersharing government at Stormont has been collapsed for more than two years following the break down in relations between Northern Ireland’s leading parties the DUP and Sinn Fein.
Those parties remain split over the place of the Irish language in society, abortion and the recognition of same-sex marriage.
Numerous attempts to reach a resolution have ended without success.