Howlin says he will not attend events if Trump visits Ireland

‘I won’t be a cheerleader, I won’t be in attendance,’ says Labour Party leader

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin says he will not attend any events if US President Donald Trump visits Ireland.

“I won’t be a cheerleader, I won’t be in attendance,” he said on Friday.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who is currently visiting the US, invited Mr Trump to visit Ireland during his presidency, in a move that could be one of the defining decisions Mr Kenny’s tenure.

Mr Kenny, who last year described language used by Mr Trump as “racist and dangerous”, said he took the decision to extend the invitation because, in Ireland, “invitations are always returned, and returned in kind”.

Mr Howlin said he was disappointed Mr Kenny did not take the opportunity during the visit to express concern at Mr Trump’s attitude towards women, the disabled, the press, religion and how he had “demonised” Mexican people.

In January, Mr Howlin had said he feared Mr Kenny would be “supine” when he met with Mr Trump and that his visit would be similar to that of British prime minister Theresa May, “with hand holding and glad handling”.

“Mr Trump was right when he spoke about Irish confidence. This was an opportunity to be confident about what we stand for,” said Mr Howlin, speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Mr Howlin said he wondered if the Taoiseach had run the idea of inviting Mr Trump to Ireland by his Cabinet before he extended the invitation.

Although Mr Trump said he “absolutely” intends to return to Ireland, officials yesterday played down the possibility of a visit this year.

Mr Trump is expected to visit London in the autumn, but it is believed that an official visit to Ireland is more likely after the US mid-term elections next year.