US Vice President Mike Pence meets with US troops at Shannon Airport
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US Vice President Mike Pence meets with US troops at Shannon Airport

US VICE President Mike Pence made a surprise stop-off in Ireland this Saturday to meet with US troops on their way to Iraq.

Mr Pence last visited Ireland in September but made a quick pit-stop during refuelling at Shannon Airport to meet soldiers heading to the Middle East.

The vice president was on his way back to the US from Italy following a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

He disembarked Air Force Two after touching down in Shannon to offer a message of thanks and support to the troops heading to Iraq.

“I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to get off Air Force Two and tell you how grateful we are to each and every one of you and your families that are going to keep the home fires burning during this deployment,” Pence said.

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“We’re proud of you. Grateful for you. I know if your commander chief was standing here he would say the very same thing.”

Mr Pence posed for photographs and shook hands with several of the soldiers heading out.

He later wrote on social media: “Great seeing US Troops from Texas, Pennsylvania, and New York during our stop in Ireland today! Proud of you and grateful for your service! God Bless Our Troops!,”

The International Secretary of the Irish Peace and Neutrality Alliance Edward Horgan criticised Mr Pence’s actions.

He told the Irish Examiner: “It seems we are no longer a sovereign country and that those that fought and died for Irish sovereignty, independence and justice fought and died in vain.

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“Mike Pence, US Vice President, for the second time in the past six months, has deliberately abused Irish sovereignty and neutrality by using Shannon Airport to greet US troops who are breaching Irish sovereignty by transiting through neutral Ireland on their way to wage wars of aggression in the Middle East.”