Miriam Lord: Trump therapy is not needed at Leinster House

The silver lining to the Donald’s win – it silences Ireland’s smug Clinton fan club

Irish Times News Editor Mark Hennessy and Irish Times Managing Editor Cliff Taylor discuss President-elect Donald Trump and what his presidency will mean for Ireland.

 

Ah sure, he’s not the worst. And didn’t his people pay our people an enormous compliment by getting him to call Enda Kenny before he lifted the phone to Theresa May?

US president-elect Donald Trump spoke to nine “world leaders” before he got around to contacting the British prime minister.

And – the mortification – one of them was the “Irish premier” who bagged himself an invitation to the White House in March.

No talk of any meeting with Theresa, yet.

They were very miffed in the English papers. Words such as “snubbed” and “embarrassed” were bandied about. World leader Enda must be cock-a-hoop.

The lean and hungry lads in Fine Gael will be disappointed. He won’t want to leave the top job any time soon.

It’s been a difficult American presidential election week for many.

Here, in The Irish Times, the counselling is going very well and, with medication and rest, most of our opinion-formers should be recovered in time for Christmas.

Traumatised

Emergency basket-weaving is ongoing for the severely traumatised, who are finding it very hard to cope with the prospect of life in Trumponia.

For compassionate reasons, they are being denied access to any form of media in case they discover Leonard Cohen has died.

This news, following so fast upon the unthinkable Trump victory, might finish them off altogether. Thank you all for asking.

There was no need for Trump therapy in Leinster House, where political pragmatism kicked in as soon as the result was declared.

The reaction to his shock elevation was a bit like the response from TDs to Budget 2004, when Charlie McCreevy announced details of his (now abandoned) decentralisation wheeze.

The plan involved moving over 10,000 civil and public servants from Dublin to 53 locations in 25 counties.

Once politicians spotted the relevant paragraphs in the Minister’s speech they began rifling through the accompanying documentation, feverishly trying to work out what investment was earmarked for their patch, how much might be going to rivals’ territory and how soon they could get a statement out to local media claiming their part in securing the bounty.

McCreevy could have continued reading his speech in Cantonese and they wouldn’t have noticed.

Twelve years on, Donald Trump conducts an election campaign which is unprecedentedly dishonest, uninformed, sleazy, racist, offensive, dangerous and frightening.

In this country – where the biggest excitement in our election debate happened when a sheet of paper fluttered down from Micheál Martin’s lectern and Enda Kenny tried to gingerly toe-poke it back – most people watched Trumps performances in horrified disbelief.

Then he won.

And just like when Charlie McCreevy introduced his widely criticised and now discredited decentralisation policy, all the earlier Trump misgivings gave way to immediate thoughts of what’s in it for us.

Bottomline

As the wailing and rending of garments still dominated the airwaves and prints, some TDs and senators were already looking for the bottom line, mayors were burnishing their chains of office and county councils began composing invitation letters to Donald Trump and his vice-president-elect Mike Pence – who believes gay people can be “cured” and evolution didn’t happen.

But he has strong Irish connections.

In the Dáil, party leaders congratulated the soon-to-be-installed leader of the United States. That’s democracy for you, along with basic diplomacy and political pragmatism.

On Wednesday morning, before the Dáil convened, Government Ministers were sent an advisory note: “Hi all, advice at this point is to make no public comment in relation to the outcome of the US presidential election.

“Language will be circulated ASAP in the course of the morning.”

Seanad members weren’t so constrained.

Former junior minister Kieran O’Donnell got to the point: “It is important to note that Donald Trump has business interests in Ireland.

“The vice-president is an Irish-American. We have to deal with the reality we woke up to today that the Republicans and Donald Trump will take up power and we have to deal with them in the best interests of Ireland.”

His Fine Gael colleague, Michelle Mulherin, declared the Seanad should “accept that there is a new order” and invite Trump to address the Upper House at the earliest opportunity.

Clinton fan club

“We need to work with him and we need to get over ourselves, whatever other issues we have about what he does or does not stand for.”

Michael Healy-Rae rushed out a statement: “Whether you like president-elect Donald Trump or not, we are where we are, it is time to congratulate him and to work in conjunction with him and others for the betterment of society.

“I would hope that president-elect Trump will value the Irish people for what we are, hard workers and a country that has had great relations with America in the past.”

Not like them Mexicans.

But there is always a silver lining. At least the result means we won’t have to listen for another four years to Ireland’s smug Clinton fan club rhapsodising about their closeness to Capitol Hill and the sainted Bill and Hill.

And it might now be safe to say in polite circles that Bruce Springsteen isn’t actually God.

Who knows? The Donie might confound us all. Have to go now. Nurse is arriving with the medicine and those baskets won’t weave themselves . . .

Varadkar waltzes off to Vienna to hone leadership skills

There’s a big event happening in Vienna this weekend. The city will be full of Irish people for the World Cup qualifying match between Ireland and Austria. Minister for Social Protection and former minister for sport Leo Varadkar will also be in town.

We hope he makes it to tonight’s game. It will be a nice bit of serendipity for him if he does. Leo, as it turns out, just happens to be in Vienna today for the inaugural meeting of the “New Leaders for Europe” group.

Established by the World Economic Forum, the three-day event is a sort of Davos for beginners.

It’ll be difficult for Leo to keep his mind on business during “The Future of Europe: New Perspectives” when Martin O’Neill and the Boys in Green are on the march in the vicinity.

The New Leaders for Ireland, sorry, Europe group “will meet at regular intervals in the future to shape European policy and influence the future of the continent.”

Varadkar (37) is the only Irish participant invited and he joins young ministerial colleagues from across Europe who will debate with “politicians, economists, academics and public sector leaders” from across the globe.

It’s going to be tropic, as the young people say. The baby Peter Sutherlands are going to discuss “the current political challenges affecting the region, from political fragmentation to populism and geopolitical, societal and economic developments” and aim to “identify priority areas for the community to address”.

They will, of course, “brainstorm the future of Europe as well as the role of political leaders in shaping the European agenda” in order to “elaborate on concrete next steps” and “agree on main deliverables”.

Come 5pm this evening, we suspect there will be only one main deliverable on Leo’s mind – a win and three points for the Boys in Green.

If he doesn’t make it to the Ernst Happel stadium, his backbench colleague Noel Rock will be very disappointed.

And Noel hasn’t had a great week, what with his political idol Hillary Clinton (he interned with her back in the day, in case anyone hasn’t heard this already) failing to make it into the White House.

He was in Washington for the election and is flying in from the States to attend the game with his bestie.

Minister’s kind offer of blood all in vein, alas

Simon Harris’s blood bus departed Leinster House on Thursday for the Blood Transfusion Service clinic, carrying some 20 TDs and Senators the short distance to D’Olier Street.

A number of journalists also volunteered their veins for the occasion. Unfortunately the Minister for Health wasn’t allowed to give any blood because he has Crohn’s Disease.

Harris was rather embarrassed, explaining he had checked to see if he was eligible and hadn’t seen his condition listed. Never mind, the event was all about the importance of people giving blood.

Only 3 per cent of the eligible population are active donors even though one in four people will require a transfusion at some stage in their lives.

Politicians from all parties took part. Junior Minister Finian McGrath flew the Independent Alliance flag, but he too was ruled out by the medics due to an existing condition.

He says he had no blood left to give after spending three hours before the Health Committee, where he was questioned at length by Bernard Durkan.

Happily, he bravely took part in the photo opportunity before his ineligibility was rumbled. Martin Conway, the Fine Gael Senator from Clare, made the most of the occasion.

As the bus was about to return to Leinster House with its drained passengers, Martin arrived, struggling under a substantial armload of chocolate bars, crisps and fizzy drinks.

Donors are encouraged to have some of the snacks to bring their blood sugar levels back up. “I’m bringing them back for the lads in the office,” Martin told his bemused colleagues.