Trump’s Irish voters: ‘I support him with my nose held’

Six Irish-born US residents explain why they will vote for the billionaire businessman and reality TV star, despite his anti-immigrant rhetoric


The latest opinion polls show Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in a virtual dead heat in the US presidential race.

Among some immigrant communities, however, there seems to be no contest. Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric – insulting Mexicans as rapists and criminals, proposing to deport illegal immigrants (mostly Mexican) living in the US, and promising to build a wall along the border with Mexico to keep illegal migrants out – has alienated Hispanic-American voters and many others.

But it seems that Irish-Americans are not so put off. Here six Irish-born American citizens, all long-time residents of the United States, explain why they’ll vote for the New York businessman on November 8th.

Derry Connolly: ‘This election is a terrible choice’

Derry Connolly, who is from Leap, in west Cork, moved to the United States in 1977 and became a citizen in 1985. The 61-year-old lives in California and is president of John Paul the Great Catholic University, a film and screen-entertainment college in San Diego. He has voted Republican since he first cast a ballot in a US presidential election, in 1988

“I am voting for Donald Trump not because I am hugely in love with Trump but because I can’t stand Hillary or her policies. Trump wouldn’t be my first choice, but to me it is more of a vote against Hillary, because I have no respect for her policies, particularly her economic policies.

“I see her as being very far left. She is like Obama but worse, and Obama has been a disaster for the US. If you talk to anybody out there, at least anyone who runs a business, the biggest concern is the uncertain regulatory environment. That has been the hallmark of the Obama administration, and it will be more of the same and worse under Clinton.

“Trump’s language is a total turnoff, but it is like, ‘Do I want to vote for someone who is going to be atrocious or someone who has maybe a 20 per cent chance of being reasonable?’ Trump will surround himself with people who are far more sensitive to people running businesses.

“Clinton is an avowed leftist. If she managed in the way Bill Clinton did I would have some optimism. He was a great politician and knew the art of compromise. But Obama’s characteristic is that he doesn’t work with anybody. Obamacare has been a total disaster. It is the fruit of political system that has no compromise. 

“Immigration is hugely complicated. In principle I believe in the rule of law. I came here as a legal immigrant. Legal immigration has been very good for the US. I live in California, where there is a huge number of illegal immigrants. I have huge respect for Mexicans. They are just a huge asset in southern California, despite the fact that they are here against the principle I believe in. I am empathetic to the illegal immigrants, so I wouldn’t be as hard nosed as Trump about putting illegal Mexicans out of the country. 

“It is a terrible choice in this year’s election. In my years of voting it is absolutely the worst choice.”

Aileen Deeter: ‘I nickname Hillary ‘Killary’. She’s a liar’

Aileen Deeter: “I nickname Hillary ‘Killary’. She is a liar”
Aileen Deeter, from Killester in Dublin, emigrated to the United States in 1991. The 50-year-old works as a prison nurse in Kansas and has three sons. She has voted for Republican candidates, including George W Bush, but prefers not to be identified with any one party. Her son is married to a Peruvian whose family lived in the US illegally for a time

“What I like about Trump is that he says so much of what all of us are thinking and can’t say, or if you say it people call you a racist. 

“Why not have a businessman in the White House? I think something fresh might be good, someone who is not political. I have had enough of the Clintons. I nickname her ‘Killary’. She is a liar. I don’t know how she can run, being excused from true criminal acts such as the constant lying about her emails. I don’t trust her. 

“With Trump there is no mincing it up; it is straight. He is very direct. I like that. That is like who I am. I would rather someone just say what is on their mind. 

“We have lost sight of who we were. It is not that we were a bad country, but people feel they have lost hope, and he is bringing it back around. When he has made his remarks about women I really haven’t been too fazed by it. He is not a politician. One of my friends back in Dublin has said, ‘Would you ever cop on?’ I ask her, ‘Well, how do you see it?’ She doesn’t have an answer. I am not hearing people saying that Hillary is the right one either. Nobody has a good argument to support her.

“People kind of see Trump as not somebody you would take seriously. But I’m like, What have we got to lose?”

Continue reading below.

Paul Sparks: ‘Immigration has to be controlled’

Paul Sparks: “Immigration has to be controlled”
Paul Sparks left Malahide, Co Dublin, in 1981. The 65-year-old is an equipment sales manager in a waste and recycling firm. He lived in Maryland until April, when he and his wife – who is from Youghal, Co Cork – moved to Florida. He has five children, including a 27-year-old US army combat engineer who served in Afghanistan and will be deployed to Iraq in November

“I am supporting Donald Trump by default. I have got to the point where I would vote for Fred Flintstone rather than Hillary Clinton. 

“I am beginning to think that he could run this country as a company. I like that he is not taking a lot of money from all the troublemakers in Washington. If he does get elected he would begin to put the right people into the right departments with the necessary expertise rather than those who have filled their coffers during the election campaign. That’s what has poisoned Washington.

“Trump definitely does seem to have a genuine interest in strengthening the military. They have been badly weakened, financially and otherwise, over the last seven or eight years, in a way that has demoralised them. Despite what the rest of the world says from time to time, I think a strong military does matter on a global basis.

“I think Hillary Clinton is a very, very manipulative and dishonest politician. Look at the Clinton Foundation situation” – Republicans claim that she sold state-department access to donors to her charitable foundation – “look at the Benghazi attack” – on the US diplomatic outpost in Libya when Clinton was secretary of state – “in 2012, look at the flip-flops over the years. I just think she should not be trusted. 

“I don’t see how Trump is going to build the wall. We came into this country legally, and we followed the rules. This is a country built on immigrants, and this immigrant is completely in favour of immigration. But it has to be controlled and under the rule of law. I don’t know how you can just ignore people in line legally, some of whom have been waiting for seven or eight years. 

“I would not be a Trump supporter under normal circumstances, but this choice is so bad that I cannot vote for this other one.”

Diarmuid Hogan: ‘Trump will hire very good people’

Diarmuid Hogan with Enda Kenny: “Trump will hire very good people”
Diarmuid Hogan, from Marino in Dublin, has been out of Ireland for 51 years. The 72-year-old amassed a fortune from insurance and investment, and owns bars and restaurants in New York and an Irish television programme in the US. Hogan, a member of the Ireland-US Council business organisation, lives in South Carolina and has homes in Dublin, New York, the Cayman Islands and Mexico. He is Republican but voted for Barack Obama in 2008. He has played golf twice with Donald Trump, whom he calls a superb golfer

“From day one Donald Trump certainly wasn’t my number-one choice or even my number-two or number-three choice. 

“The present US government has corrupted the IRS” – the Internal Revenue Service – “the state department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the health department. So many people have been lying to the public over the years, and Hillary Clinton is as corrupt as you can be. She said that she left the White House dead broke, and now she is worth $150 million. How do you accumulate that in making a few speeches here and there? It is pay to play.

“I think Donald Trump is a creation of her and President Obama. People are sick and tired of being lied to. The political correctness is stupefying. People are saying, ‘Give me my country back,’ and here is this guy saying that ‘I am going to burn this all down, and I am going to start afresh.’ That is why so many people are coming into his corner.

“Trump, as much as personally I don’t like his braggadocio or the superlatives that he uses, is honest and he won’t be corrupted. He will hire a lot of very good people.

“Trump has no intention of going after Ireland and penalising them from a tax point of view. Donald Trump is all for good trade deals and good jobs, but he is not after Ireland. He wants to change the tax code. The problem with the US government is that they want every other country to change their tax code to the benefit of the United States.

“Don’t believe the shite that Obama or Bill or Hillary love Ireland. They are after the money that multinationals have in Ireland. 

“I don’t think Trump will win. If you look at the electoral map it is going to be very hard to overcome the strengths that the Democratic Party has.”

Denis Hickie: ‘He stood up to people. He could not be bought’

Denis Hickie: “Trump might get more people back to work”
Denis Hickie, from Co Kerry, has been in the US for 35 years. The 59-year-old lives in Philadelphia and works for a multinational pharmaceutical company. He has voted for Republicans and Democrats, including Barack Obama, twice

“I am supporting Trump. One of the reasons is because he stood up to people as an outsider. Also, he isn’t taking any money from anybody and he couldn’t be bought. 

“I really don’t like Hillary. I think it would be better for Ireland if she did get in. Traditionally, her and her husband have been more pro-Irish. She is pretty well liked back there. I do think that she tells a good few fibs about the emails and the Benghazi attack.” – in which four Americans were killed – “If those people could have been saved because of inaction, that is pretty serious. 

“It is the status quo we are going to get with Clinton. She is going to continue on with the Obama policies. The working guy hasn’t got a good pay increase over the last five years under Obama, and if Hillary is going to continue on with that people are going to be very disgruntled. 

“If you look at the inner cities they are pretty bad, and unemployment among African-Americans is pretty bad. Can Trump fix all that? You never know. As he said himself to the African-Americans, what have you got to lose? I think he might get more people back to work.

“I don’t think Trump is going to win. I have a lot of Mexican and Hispanic friends and a lot of black friends, and they will definitely not support him. 

“Trump was fun to watch in the debates, because you didn’t know what he was going to say. There is a certain amount of amusement and comedy with him. He is a showman. I reckon he started off running as a joke himself and it became a reality. It’s like if one of the Healy-Raes ran for taoiseach.” 

Brendan Hurley: ‘Trump will do a better job for my customers’

Brendan Hurley: “Trump will do a better job for my customers”
Brendan Hurley emigrated from Rochestown, in Cork, in 1978. The 60-year- old lives near Orlando, Florida, and runs a software company and a car dealership. He has been voting for Republican presidential candidates since John McCain in 2008

“I support Trump with my nose held. I think he’s going to do a better job for my customers. That’s important to me, as doing a better job for my customers will mean me and my company do better. 

“The current administration will simply continue by putting Hillary Clinton in the White House, and that is a very undesirable scenario. 

“As a small businessman I think we need to see tax reform and healthcare change. My employees are getting creamed by Obamacare. I have 100 employees. It’s crushing them. We just got our premium quote for the next 12 months, and it’s 32 per cent higher than last year; last year it was 30 per cent higher than the previous year. 

“There are many things that I don’t like about Trump as a person, but I see him as an individual to get the job done. He is certainly not very traditional, but he has surrounded himself with very competent people and has been very vociferous about his policies. There is a great deal of business sense in his policies, so I like that. I think he is going to be better for the common man. 

“I am an immigrant. I did it the legal way and the proper way, and I see many, many individuals, including employers, that are guilty of hiring illegal immigrants themselves. It annoys the crap out of me. We need to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and also look at what is enabling them to stay here, which is illegal employment of illegal aliens. That is a bad thing too.

“I am married to a Brazilian. I went through a year and a half of all sorts of forms and documents to get my wife to be an American citizen. For someone who plays by rules and does something the right way, it is irritating to see someone who skirts those rules. It feels like they are giving you the finger.

“The system is so broken that the only way to fix it is to reinvent. Trump, at least according to his policy statements, seems to be willing to do that.

“Trump’s rhetoric puts me off tremendously. It is absolutely horrible. Some of it has been taken completely out of context. Some of the things that he has said about women are horrific, especially to a man who has five sisters and four daughters. It sends me into a spasm. But the fact of the matter is that no human being is perfect. Donald Trump’s big crime is his failure to keep his gob shut when he should.

“The first presidential debate” – on Monday – “is what’s going to decide the election, because I think everyone is sitting on their hands and saying, what the hell am I going to do here? A lot of people are not willing to admit that they are supporting him because he is such a jackass.”

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