Protesters gather at Shannon to oppose ‘rude’ Donald Trump
Anti-war and environmental groups have set up a ‘peace camp’ near Co Clare airport
Protesters are seen during an anti-Donald Trump demonstration at a camp they have set up outside Shannon Airport. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters.
Up to 200 people attended a protest on Wednesday outside Shannon Airport to oppose US president Donald Trump’s visit to Ireland.
Demonstrators began setting up a ‘peace camp’ from the early afternoon and intend to stay there until Mr Trump leaves the country on Friday.
They held a rally to coincide with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s meeting with the US president at the Co Clare airport on Wednesday evening. There was a large Garda presence at the scene for the duration of the demonstration.
Speaking at the protest, recently elected MEP for Dublin Clare Daly described Mr Trump as “offensive, rude, boorish, ignorant and divisive”.
She said the amount of taxpayer money and garda resources diverted to Co Clare as a result of Mr Trump’s visit was “outrageous”.
The protest was organised by groups such as Shannonwatch, which campaigns against the US military’s use of the airport, and several other anti-war and environmental groups. The rally heard poetry and traditional Irish music performances as well as speeches.
Saoirse Exton (14) attended the protest with her mother, Geraldine, and performed several songs on the fiddle.
She said she had only become involved in environmental activism in recent weeks and came to to protest as Mr Trump was “not recognising climate change”.
“Ireland is definitely not doing enough, it has lots of empty promises that need to be fulfilled,” she said.
John Lannon, one of the protest organisers from the Shannonwatch group, handed two petitions to gardaí, which he said they had promised to deliver to Mr Trump and Mr Varadkar.
The letter to Mr Trump, signed by those attending the rally, called for him to “start behaving like he is a leader of a nation”. The petition to Mr Varadkar demanded that he “immediately end US military use of Shannon airport”.
On Thursday, a large protest is planned for Dublin city centre, starting at the Garden of Remembrance at 6pm. It is being organised by a coalition of more than 30 civil society organisations, political parties and campaign groups.
Another protester in Shannon, Cynthia Cox, moved to Co Clare from Texas three years ago, and lives 10 minutes drive from Doonbeg, where Mr Trump owns a golf resort.
She said she was taking part in the protest as she “totally disagreed with everything Trump does”. Asked about the warm reception for Mr Trump from locals in Doonbeg, Ms Cox said she had no problem with people supporting him as a businessman who created jobs.
“They support him as a business person, not everyone in the town loves him, but they’re not going to bad mouth him because he did bring business.”
A small number of pro-Trump protesters gathered opposite the main demonstration, carrying a Trump 2020 banner and small US flags. Some other Trump fans travelled to the Co Clare airport simply to try catch a glimpse of the US president landing or departing for Doonbeg.
Luke Griffin (16) from Limerick said: “I’m here today to support President Donald Trump, I feel he gets a hard time for what he does.”
He said he started supporting Mr Trump in 2016, as he felt he was a “better option” than Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton.