What impact will Trump’s presidency have on Northern Ireland?

Analysis: Clinton had a keen interest in North and met leading politicians from the region

A file image of Donald Trump at Shannon airport during a  visit to his golf course at   Doonbeg  in 2014. Photograph: PA

A file image of Donald Trump at Shannon airport during a visit to his golf course at Doonbeg in 2014. Photograph: PA

 

Northern Ireland did not rate a mention in Donald Trump’s election campaign so it is difficult to gauge what impact, if any, his election will have on the approach of the United States to the peace process.

His opponent Hillary Clinton did have a long standing interest in the issue beginning when her husband was in the White House and continuing on through her own independent political career.

Both as a senator for New York and as Secretary of State in the first Obama administration she took a keen interest in developments in Northern Ireland and met the leading politicians from the region on a number of occasions.

During her tenure at the state Department she appointed Irish businessman Declan Kelly as an envoy to Northern Ireland and she followed events in the region.

The role president Bill Clinton played in the development of the peace process, which was one of the unqualified success stories of his time as president, fuelled her continuing commitment to the issue.

While the Obama administration kept up a degree of interest in Northern Ireland it didn’t match the level of commitment to the peace process that had been evident during the Clinton years in the White House.

How a Trump administration will approach the issue is an open question.

His experience of Ireland does not appear to have gone much beyond his involvement in the Doonbeg golf resort in Co Clare.

Leading Irish politicians made it very clear that they favoured Ms Clinton rather than him for the White House but whether he paid much attention to this in the heat of the most bitter presidential election campaign in decades is an open question.

Pressed in the Dail to state his opinion about Mr Trump, Taoiseach Enda Kenny called some of his comments “racist and dangerous” and refused to commit to meeting the candidate during a proposed Irish visit during the campaign which never came off.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan was more guarded when he was asked during the Irish general election campaign if he would meet Mr Trump again if he came to Shannon.

“Sure wouldn’t I have to if he is the president,” said Mr Noonan who back in February wasn’t ruling out a Trump victory.

The annual trip to the White House by the Taoiseach for St Patrick’s Day has been a feature of the political calendar since Ronald Reagan adopted the practice in the early 1980s.

Under a second President Clinton that tradition would undoubtedly have continued. Whether it will survive in the era of President Trump we find out next March.