Updated: 12/03/18 : 08:32:08
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Varadkar says no to border pre-register system after Brexit

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has dismissed claims that people crossing the Irish border would have to pre-register after Brexit.

Speaking from the US, where he is conducting a series of St Patrick's Day engagements, the Taoiseach said: "No, it is not a solution that we envisage."

RTÉ reports that Mr Varadkar was responding to questions about a controversial plan reportedly being considered by the British government.

It could mean people crossing the border after Brexit would have to register in advance to avoid checks and delays.

It has been claimed anyone without so-called fast track movement clearance would also have to use approved crossing points or risk being considered to have entered the State irregularly.

The British government has said there would be no hard border and no return to the borders of the past when the UK leaves the European Union.

In December, British Prime Minister Theresa May agreed to regulatory alignment across the UK to avoid border posts and checks.

Mr Varadkar said it might be helpful if senior cabinet officials such as Boris Johnson and David Davis visited the border to see at first hand that it was "invisible".

"They would certainly be very welcome to visit the border," he said.

"I know (Northern Ireland Secretary) Karen Bradley has already done that and a delegation of British politicians from the House of Lords and House of Commons have done that too.

"I think it would be a good idea. I can't see anything negative in a British cabinet minister viewing the border, seeing what it looks like.

"As is always the case, and this is true for any politicians or anyone in any walk of life, you can read as many briefing documents as you like, sometimes you need to see things with your own eyes.

"I think for that reason, they would be very welcome to visit the border and see it for themselves. And to see that it is invisible."

Varadkar to meet members of Choctaw community

The Taoiseach will meet members of the Choctaw Native American community in Oklahoma later today.

He will thank them for their ancestor's generosity during the Great Famine.

In 1847, the Choctaw people collected money for famine relief in Ireland, despite living in relative poverty themselves.

Yesterday, he began his visit in Texas, where he met the Governor of Texas Greg Abbott in Austin.

Then, it was on to the South by Southwest Festival, where Mr Varadkar spoke about the importance of the tech sector to the Irish economy and met actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Looking ahead to the rest of his US trip, the Taoiseach vowed to raise issues such as trade tariffs and gay rights when he meets US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence later this week.