Kenny strongly criticised for inviting Trump to Ireland

Opposition parties pledge to hold protests opposing the visit of US president

Opposition parties have strongly criticised Taoiseach Enda Kenny for inviting US president Donald Trump to Ireland and have vowed to hold protests opposing his visit.

Mr Kenny issued Mr Trump with an official invitation when the two leaders met in Washington DC on Thursday.

The Taoiseach was further criticised for failing to raise concerns over some of the policies pursued by the president.

The Labour Party, the Green Party, People Before Profit and the Solidarity party all said they would hold protests against any visit by Mr Trump.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said Mr Kenny did not challenge Mr Trump on his ban on immigrants or on the anti-gay rhetoric of vice president Mike Pence.

Mr Howlin said the Taoiseach had worn "the shamrock and the green tie, he smiled for the cameras, and he kept alive a tradition of White House celebrations of St Patrick's Day".

However, Mr Kenny had failed to reflect Irish values and had become a supine supporter of Trumpism, the Labour leader added.

“Ireland is an open and tolerant nation. At the very least, we might have expected our Taoiseach to express such a sentiment to President Trump. But even this he could not bring himself to do.”

Strong opposition

Mr Kenny faced criticism for proceeding with his visit to the White House in light of strong opposition to a number of the policies pursued by the president.

Government Ministers including Minister for Transport Shane Ross and Minister of State John Halligan had urged the Taoiseach not to proceed with the annual visit.

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar, Mr Ross, Mr Halligan and Minister of State Finian McGrath also said they would not support an invitation being issued to Mr Trump to come here.

Mr McGrath said his position had not changed and he is still opposed to the visit.

Efforts by The Irish Times to contact the other Ministers to see if their positions remained were unsuccessful.

The Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said Mr Trump would not be welcome in Ireland despite his declaration of affection for the country.

Mr Ryan said the majority of people in Ireland would be opposed to the US president’s “divisive, nationalist, protectionist” approach to politics.

“For all these reasons we regret the fact that the Taoiseach’s visit went ahead today as if it is business as usual in the White House. We should not be giving any further succour to the current administration by extending a visit to Ireland,” said Mr Ryan.

‘Grovelled at the feet’

Mr Trump had intended to visit Ireland during the election campaign to see his golf resort in Doonbeg, Co Clare, but the trip did not proceed.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said Mr Kenny had "grovelled at the feet" of Mr Trump. Instead of challenging his "dangerous, vile, racist and sexist comments" , Mr Kenny played directly into his hands, Mr Boyd Barrett said.

“If he [Mr Trump] does come, he should be met with substantial protests. Any visit by Trump would legitimise his far-right, racist and divisive views in this country and encourage dangerous political elements to begin to organise around a similar platform in Ireland.”

The Solidarity party said they would stage a number of protests against Mr Trump. Ruth Coppinger TD said Mr Kenny had passed a dangerous baton to the next leader of Fine Gael.

The Taoiseach has said he will stand aside ahead of the next general election and would make his departure date known when he returns home from Washington.

Ms Coppinger said his successor should decline Mr Trump’s visit “if they don’t want to see what could be possibly the biggest street protests in decades”.