Taoiseach rejects call to withdraw Trump invite to Ireland

Richard Boyd Barrett alleges US president ‘has given licence to the politics of hate’

US president Donald Trump’s trip here could take place as early as June, as he is expected to travel to Europe for the D-Day anniversary in June and to Britain for the Nato summit in December. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

US president Donald Trump’s trip here could take place as early as June, as he is expected to travel to Europe for the D-Day anniversary in June and to Britain for the Nato summit in December. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has rejected a call to withdraw the invitation to US president Donald Trump to visit Ireland in the wake of the New Zealand shootings.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett claimed that Mr Trump had “given licence” to the type of hate that led to the New Zealand shootings.

Fifty people were shot and killed while at prayer in two mosques in Christchurch and more than 50 others were injured by a lone gunman.

“I am making a serious assertion,” Mr Boyd Barrett said. He alleged that with the growth of the far right and racism the only conclusion that could be drawn was that “Donald Trump has given licence, as the most powerful leader in the world, to the politics of hate, of the sort of hate that drove that massacre”.

The Dun Laoghaire TD said he was asking seriously in that context if it was “a strategic threat to invite him” to Ireland.

Mr Trump has said he will visit Ireland this year. The Taoiseach said during his St Patrick’s week visit to the US that Mr Trump’s trip here could take place as early as June, as the US president is expected to travel to Europe for the D-Day anniversary in June and to Britain for the Nato summit in December.

Mr Boyd Barrett asked Mr Varadkar if he recognised that “the anti-Muslim, nakedly racist rhetoric of Donald Trump directly legitimises, encourages and promotes the sort of horror we saw in New Zealand”.

He called on Mr Varadkar to reconsider the invitation to the US president “because it will give licence and encouragement to the sort of sick mentality that carried out that massacre in New Zealand”.

Mr Boyd Barrett said he had visited the mosque in Clonskeagh, Dublin at the weekend. “I am not exaggerating when I say that the worshippers there were really afraid,” he said.

“They were thinking about having to impose security around the mosque, something they never wanted to do before.”

Labour leader Brendan Howlin asked if An Garda Síochána had consulted the Muslim community in Ireland about its security. “Have any concerns it has expressed been addressed, and are particular measures being put in place to give security and confidence to that community?”

Mr Varadkar said he could not speak for the Garda, “but I know from my visits to the mosque and conversations with gardaí that Garda liaison officers are appointed to the Muslim community. They do very effective work, or at least that is the impression I have”.

When Mr Boyd Barrett pressed him to answer his question about Mr Trump the Taoiseach said: “My answer to the Deputy’s question is no, I do not agree”.