Over 12,000 sign petition for Kenny to cancel White House visit

‘Shamrock for Trump: Not in my name’ attracts support following US refugee ban

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.

 

Over 12,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Taoiseach Enda Kenny to boycott the annual St Patrick’s Day visit to meet US president Donald Trump in Washington.

The campaign began after Mr Trump signed executive orders on Friday blocking access of immigrants from certain countries to the US in an attempt to prevent the entry of terrorists.

The orders impose an indefinite ban on admissions of refugees from Syria, as well as blocking visa applications from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for 90 days.

There will also be a temporary ban on entry of all refugees to the US for 120 days.

The petition was started on social change website Uplift.ie on Saturday and has gained a huge amount of momentum since then according to its director Siobhán O’Donoghue.

“It’s rare we see petitions grow this quickly and gather this much momentum on social media in such a short space of time,” she said.

“This shows that people in Ireland are disgusted by the behaviour of Donald Trump since he became president nine days ago, and want to see Enda Kenny show real leadership and courage in the face of such blatant racism and fascism on the part of Donald Trump,” she said.

Although primarily aimed at an Irish audience, the petition is not restricted to Irish signatories.

Taoisigh have made the annual trip to present a bowl of shamrock to the incumbent US president at his White House residence every year for over two decades.

The Department of the Taoiseach received an invitation from Mr Trump’s team during the transition period prior to his official swearing-in ceremony earlier this month. The invitation was confirmed by the White House last week.

The US president’s moves to curtail immigration to the US have been met with a critical reaction from human rights organisations and politicians around the world, with Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan on Sunday stating the Government’s concerns regarding the plans.

The executive order is particularly momentous for Ireland, which hosts the only US pre-clearance immigration facilities anywhere in Europe.