A Labour Senator was accused of being very divisive over his call for politicians to boycott the US embassy’s Independence Day reception on July 4th over the Trump administration’s handling of migration.
Aodhán Ó Riordáin, who also called for a boycott last year, highlighted the photograph of El Salvadorean migrant Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, who drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande river separating the US and Mexico. The image showed them lying face down on the river bank with her arm wrapped around his neck.
Mr Ó Riordáin said “these are people who President Trump has dismissed as animals”.
Wrong and divisive
But Government Senator Frankie Feighan said a boycott was not the answer and Mr Ó Riordáin's call was wrong and divisive.
The Labour Senator said politicians had all received invitations “to the American embassy next week to drink champagne and celebrate Independence Day on July 4th. Just like last year, we are calling for an Oireachtas boycott of this event.”
He told his colleagues that if they really believed in equality “then it would be deeply hypocritical to attend the American ambassador’s reception to celebrate July 4th”.
He said he was reminded “of what Trump has said about immigrants. He has described them in many different ways but he has used the term ‘animals’.”
Mr Feighan said he was horrified by the photograph and was saddened by the deaths but he said he would attend the embassy reception.
“I have issues with Donald Trump and I do not agree with him but a boycott of our friends in the United States is not a way forward. The Senator has his own views but I believe he is wrong and his view is very divisive.”
Mr Feighan added that he would pay his respects as somebody who represented Ireland, just as he would do if he was invited to any other embassy, such as that of the UK or Russia.