I’ll be back – Taoiseach meets Schwarzenegger as he kicks off St Patrick’s visit to US

I’ll be back – Taoiseach meets Schwarzenegger as he kicks off St Patrick’s visit to US

IT was judgment day for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as he bumped into movie star and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger on the first day of his St Patrick’s trip to the US.

It’s been a difficult week for the Taoiseach, who faced continued criticism over his Strategic Communications Unit and angered some by wearing an expensive jacket to meet victims of Storm Emma.

Fortunately Mr Varadkar wasn’t terminated by the True Lies actor when the pair met at the SXSW festival.

The Taoiseach attended the event to promote Irish innovation, and used the opportunity to reveal that he planned to make the case for free trade when he meets President Donald Trump this week.

It was the second stop on the opening day of Mr Varadkar’s US trip, having earlier met with Governor of Texas Greg Abbott.

"The two leaders discussed expanding the economic relationship between Texas and Ireland, and especially the potential for Ireland's growing tech industry presence in the state," reads a statement from Governor Abbott's office.

"They also spoke on continuing to support the growth of the healthcare industry and its significant impact on their respective economies.

“The meeting concluded with continued discussion regarding the opportunity to increase liquefied natural gas exports from Texas to Ireland."

After presenting Governor Abbott with some Irish Crystal, the Taoiseach received a Texas belt buckle.

On Monday, Mr Varadkar will travel to the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma to commemorate the relief the Native Americans provided to Ireland during the Great Famine.

A bilateral meeting is scheduled to take place with President Trump at the White House on Thursday, where the Taoiseach will emphasise the strength of Irish-US relations and highlight the case of the undocumented Irish.

Mr Varadkar’s visit concludes on Saturday, March 17 with the traditional New York St Patrick’s Day programme, including a meeting with Mayor Bill de Blasio, the St Patrick’s Cathedral Mass and walking in the Fifth Avenue parade.