European politicians should not be afraid to disagree with Trump - FF leader

Micheál Martin said US president’s comments on four congresswomen were outrageous

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One on Friday before heading  to his golf resort in New Jersey. Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One on Friday before heading to his golf resort in New Jersey. Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times

 

European politicians need to “stand up” and should not be afraid to say they “fundamentally” disagree with the approach of US President Donald Trump, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said.

Mr Martin was reacting to the controversy caused by Mr Trump’s comments in which he told four congresswomen to “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”.

In an end of political term briefing, Mr Martin declined to call Mr Trump a racist but said he took “great exception” to the comments and said the president “is doing disservice to democracy”.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar this week said Mr Trump’s statement “certainly had the hallmarks of racism” but added: “I’m not calling President Trump a racist by any means, but some of the things he says appear racist to me.”

Tánaiste Simon Coveney described scenes from a rally held by Mr Trump this week - in which the crowd chanted “send her back, send her back” - as “chilling”.

He also said “targeting individuals, fuelling hatred based on race is not acceptable in political discourse...history tells us where this leads.”

Mr Martin said the comments were “outrageous and totally at variance with the spirit at the core of the American nation which is about all races and all creeds coming together.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the recent comments were “outrageous and totally at variance with the spirit at the core of the American nation which is about all races and all creeds coming together.” File photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the recent comments were “outrageous and totally at variance with the spirit at the core of the American nation which is about all races and all creeds coming together.” File photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times.

“That was the origins of the American state, and his comments were ridiculous, in terms of suggesting the newly elected representatives would go back to the countries of their parents, or grandparents in some cases, as if they were responsible for the poor governance in those countries,” the Cork South Central TD said.

‘Worry’

“Obviously it was in the context of the more sharply divided polarized American political environment, but I think there is a worry here that politics is being coarsened.

“And there comes a stage when European politicians need to stand up as well for core values and not be afraid to say we fundamentally disagree with President Trump’s approach.

“We want to encourage people to become involved in constructive politics that appreciate and value the case and principles of democracy and I think president Trump is doing a disservice to democracy.”

When asked if he would stand up to Mr Trump if he became Taoiseach, Mr Martin said “there are limitations to power”.

“But I would stand up for the values that I believe in as a democrat and a parliamentarian. When one is in government, to be frank, and represents the country, we deal with many countries whose political systems we don’t agree with, where there is not the same freedoms for example that we experience here so I don’t differentiate.”