O’Malley urges Kenny to boycott Patrick’s Day trade mission

Former US presidential hopeful launches online petition against White House visit

Martin O’Malley said  the response to his online petition has been “pretty phenomenal”.

Martin O’Malley said the response to his online petition has been “pretty phenomenal”.

 

Irish-American Democrat politician Martin O’Malley has started an online petition calling on Taoiseach Enda Kenny not to attend the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in the White House.

Mr O’Malley, a former Maryland governor and mayor of Baltimore, said it was not a time to be giving bowls of shamrocks and tricolour lapel pins to the hardline figures US president Donald Trump has surrounded himself with.

“This is wrong. There is nobody telling the Irish government or any government around the world that they can’t speak up for decency,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Mr O’Malley said the petition was an effort by Irish people “with good hearts on both sides of the Atlantic” to call upon – “not only the Irish Taoiseach, but also Irish-American members of Congress not to show up and not to condone the sort of anti-immigrant rhetoric and behaviour that Donald Trump has brought to the White House.

“It absolutely runs counter to everything that the Irish-American immigrant experience and the immigrant experience in the United States has been all about for the last 240 years.”

The petition states:

“Irishmen, Irishwomen, and Fellow Americans: The enduring symbol of the United States of America is not the barbed wire fence, it is the Statue of Liberty. So please, ‘in the name of God and of the dead generations from which Ireland receives her old tradition of nationhood’, boycott Trump’s St Patrick’s Day gathering at the White House on Thursday, March 16th.”

The #NoShamrocks petition will be delivered to all Irish-American Members of Congress and the Irish Embassy in Washington

Historic links

A similar petition calling on Mr Kenny not to attend the engagement was set up in Ireland recently and tens of thousands of people signed it.

However, Mr Kenny said he would be going to mark St Patrick’s Day in order to “maintain the historically strong links between the Irish and American peoples”.

“Doing so allows the Taoiseach to outline, in person, his Government’s views on a range of issues, including business and economic ties, immigration and other matters of common interest. He will continue to act in the interests of Irish people and to that end he will raise these matters again this year.”

When asked about the historic links argument, Mr O’Malley responded: “What I would say to that is people need to stand up when evil – and this is evil, these midnight raids, rounding up immigrants, swelling the size of the immigrant internment camps, which are already the largest in the free world – when this happens, the only thing that is needed for its success is for good people not to stand up.

“But this isn’t about the party, it’s about the people. It’s about human decency, it’s about human rights, it’s about not creating a deportation nation and making stateless human beings.

“If the Irish government of all people can’t stand up and say that this is wrong, then God save us. This is not what we’re about as a country and whatever about the party this is about a country who built up a label over 240 years of being the land of the free and the home of the brave.”