The Irish premier has said he would never criticise people protesting at the visit of US president Donald Trump to Ireland.

Leo Varadkar said he did not agree with Donald Trump in many matters but that the office of the US president had to be afforded respect.

His comments came ahead of the anticipated visit of Mr Trump to the country in June following a state visit to the UK.

Speaking in Dublin, Mr Varadkar said: “This is a democracy, and peaceful protest is part of democracy, and I would certainly never criticise anyone for taking part in a protest if that’s the way they wish to express their views.”

But he also said the president of the United States would be welcome in Ireland.

“As has been the case always in the past, the president of the United States is welcome in Ireland,” he said.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who said the president of the United States would be welcome in Ireland
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the president of the United States would be welcome in Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)

“It is important that … we respect the office, even if people have particular views about the current incumbent.

“The links that exist between Ireland and America are very strong and they are about the economy and jobs, they are about citizenship. There are family links too and cultural links and we want to keep those links strong.”

Mr Trump is expected to visit between June 5 and 8. It is thought he will use his Doonbeg golf resort in west County Clare as his base.

The Taoiseach is expected to meet Mr Trump at another hotel in the area, Dromoland Castle, on a date between June 5 and 7. The five-star hotel was where former US president George W Bush met then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in 2004.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who was attending Inspirefest at the BGE Theatre in Dublin
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was attending Inspirefest at the BGE Theatre in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Varadkar said the Irish government had not yet received official confirmation of the visit, adding that protocol dictated the announcement must come from the White House.

“So the announcement, if and when it comes, will come from the White House,” he said.

But he added that he was aware of the criticism levelled by many at Mr Trump. The Taoiseach said he had been among his critics.

“A lot of people have been very critical of President Trump including me on occasion on issues around climate for example, on his opposition to free trade, on the criticisms that he’s made of the European Union, on issues such as women’s rights,” he said.

“I’ll have the opportunity, as I’ve had in the past, to raise these issues with him in person but I understand that other people will wish to do by means of protest.”

Asked whether there were any policy areas that he agreed with Mr Trump on, Mr Varadkar replied: “I’m sure there are. I’m absolutely sure there are (but) it’s always the differences that spring to mind. Let me think about that.”