Enda Kenny says rise of far-right parties is a concern

Taoiseach says he does not regret comments about Donald Trump during US election

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA


Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the rise of far-right parties and candidates is a cause of concern for European countries.

Mr Kenny instanced the emergence of right-wing parties and candidates, as well as populist anti-establishment movements, in a number of European Union States including Austria, the Netherlands, France, Spain and Italy.

Mr Kenny also again said he did not regret comments he made in the Dáil earlier this year when he described Donald Trump’s views on the Middle East and immigration as “racist and dangerous”.

The US president-elect was then a candidate for the White House and Mr Kenny said there was an alternative candidate to support.

He has since said Mr Trump’s comments were made in the “heat of battle”.

Turning to increased support for right-wing parties and candidates , Mr Kenny said the situation posed “matters of everyday concern for European countries”.

However, he indicated that as yet, no candidate or movement either from the right or from populist movements had become dominant electorally.

“If you look at the situation in Spain where you had two elections in 12 months, they have a government formed now, much in the same situation that applies here.

“You have Marine Le Pen (the anti-immigrant Front National presidential candidate in France) who is standing (in the presidential elections) as a replacement for president (François) Hollande That remains to be seen.

“I have been speaking to the new Italian prime minister (Paolo Gentiloni). He is confident that he will get his legislation through. Obviously there are elections coming there in due course.

“Then you have the Dutch elections coming next year.

Arising from the Austrian presidential election, it wasn’t a far-right candidate that was elected, it was an independent Green member.

“I think that maybe reflected a different view of the Austrian electorate as distinct from the first presidential election, which had to be re-run following a court decision.”

The Taoiseach said that only way to turn it around was with well-management economies that allowed enterprises to prosper, and created employment opportunities.

“For me, the best opportunity is to have people follow their own careers, and realise they have a well managed economy that provides them with the opportunity to have careers and jobs.

He pointed to one practical development that could bring some improvement, the removal of digital borders. He said that would become a reality in 2018.

“It’s not just to have it, it’s also a recognition of the value of small medium enterprises, entrepreneurs, innovators and creators. Because that’s going to save money and create jobs.

“And you cannot have a situation where in some countries you have a 50 per cent unemployment rate among its population. That is a recipe for disaster.”

In comments about the wider international situation, as it affected the Union, he said the make-up of Europe would face huge challenges, with an increase in the number of emigrants travelling to Europe as they tried to escape conflicts and poverty

“If you look at what’s happening now with Russia, Syria, Iran, the Hezbollah, the situation that now lies in Turkey, what’s happening in Libya, the huge numbers moving in from the Horn of Africa and Mali, these are all huge geo-political challenges.

“That’s why the European Council is concerned about that situation. That’s why it has been been refocusing on NATO. “Only at last week’s meeting we made it very clear that it takes into account the legal circumstances that apply in some countries, like Ireland, which protects our sovereign neutrality.”