Dáil debates Taoiseach’s message for Trump on St Patrick’s Day

Minister says Ireland’s priority is to ensure interests of Irish citizens are served

Ireland has often dealt with countries it didn’t agree with politically, says Minister for Education Richard Bruton, responding to Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald who sharply criticised recent decisions and remarks by US president Trump.

 

Ireland has often dealt with countries it didn’t agree with politically, Minister for Education Richard Bruton has said.

“Ireland, of course, upholds the highest standards in all international organisations in terms of protection of rights, and so on, and will continue to do so,’’ he added.

The Minister was replying in the Dáil on Thursday to Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald who sharply criticised recent decisions and remarks by US president Donald Trump.

Mr Bruton, who was taking Opposition Leaders’ Questions, said Ireland’s priority in dealing with any government, whether newly-elected or otherwise, was to ensure the interests of Irish citizens were served.

He said Ireland had long trading, political and social connections with the United States. These links continued to be really important in terms of employment, social concerns and in the handling of political issues such as undocumented Irish.

Ms McDonald asked what message Taoiseach Enda Kenny would convey to president Trump when he visited the White House on St Patrick’s Day.

She said a particular focus of the Government was the very real issue of the estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish citizens in the US.

Those concerns, she said, were voiced this week by Ciarán Staunton, president of the Irish Lobby for Emigration Reform in the US.

On Wednesday, Mr Trump signed an executive order to build a wall along the border with Mexico and crack down on US cities shielding undocumented immigrants, she said.

“Late last night, in a flagrant disregard for all international human rights protocol, he has said that torture works,’’ she added.

Ms McDonald said it was extremely worrying that some of the most dangerous and divisive rhetoric, heard during the US election campaign, was now being followed through with actions.

While it was not for Irish people to judge who the US chose as president, Ireland could and should voice its concerns when there was a blatant disregard for all generally acceptable political behaviour.