Europe

Jean-Claude Juncker's Irish thank you card sender revealed

Leo Varadkar and Jean-Claude Junker
Image caption This image of Leo Varadkar and Jean-Claude Juncker emerged on Twitter on Wednesday

They say a picture speaks a thousands words, and this one was no different.

The image of the European Commission president reading a thank you card 'from Ireland', as the Irish prime minister looked on, generated as much intrigue as it did hilarity on social media on Wednesday.

Is this what the art of diplomacy has been reduced to?

Theresa May would have to reciprocate with a bigger card from the UK, some online wags suggested.

When the picture was first published, some believed the card had come from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar or the Irish government but this was soon denied by officials in Dublin.

Now, it appears the mystery of who sent the card has been solved - it came from an Irish woman, unconnected to politics, who wanted to thank Jean-Claude Juncker for having "stood up for Ireland".

Hayley, who did not give her last name, told Irish national broadcaster RTÉ that she first learned Mr Juncker had received the card while she was doing the ironing on Wednesday night.

She was inspired to write when she had heard British politicians saying they wanted to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement., Haley told RTÉ's Liveline programme.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said she wants changes to the controversial Irish border backstop, although she suggested she is not seeking to remove it from her Brexit deal.

Haley said her concerns were eased when Mr Juncker told the European Parliament that "Ireland's borders are Europe's borders".

When asked about the contents of the card on Wednesday, Mr Juncker said they were "private".

However, an image published on social media showed that the card featured a lengthy message.

In the card, Haley told Mr Juncker that she "never really understood the importance of the EU" and that it was "something we learned about in school, a part of history, more than a part of today".

She went on to praise Mr Juncker: "But your five words, 'Ireland's borders are Europe's borders' made me want to jump for joy, punch my hands into the air, and kiss you.

"For the first time ever Ireland is stronger than Britain. That strength comes not from guns or bombs, it comes from your words and that of your colleagues."

Image caption Theresa May has said she wants changes to the controversial backstop

Speaking to RTÉ's Liveline programme, she said: "I knew at that point that we had the support of Europe and nothing was going to change."

Haley, who sent the card via an online card retailer, insisted she is not into politics and has no agenda.

She also revealed that the last two names included on the card - Scooby and Little Boo - are her pet dogs, a Chihuahua and a Jack Russell.

Haley said she was speaking from her heart when she wrote the message for the card.

"The EU was formed because of World War II," she said.

"Not having world wars is something very important and Britain is choosing not to be a part of that."

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