Trump’s Irish visit came a ‘little bit out of the blue,’ Varadkar says

Two Government ministers say they will boycott State events with US president

Donald Trump on his arrival at Shannon Airport to visit his golf course in Doonbeg, Co Clare in 2014

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said US president Donald Trump’s visit to Ireland in November has come “a little bit out of the blue”.

Mr Trump will visit Ireland either before or after a visit to France on November 11th, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.

“We did not know until a few days ago that he was going to take the opportunity of the Armistice visit in Paris to visit Dublin and he is also going to go to Doonbeg,” Mr Varadkar said.

But the Taoiseach indicated the US president would be welcome despite the controversies surrounding him.

“The relationship between Ireland and the US is so strong and so important, much more important than any Irish government or any US administration. I think we have to treat his office with the respect it deserves,” he told RTÉ Radio One’s The Marty Squad.

Mr Trump has been told he is not welcome in Ireland with two Government Ministers saying they intend to boycott his visit in November.

Independent Alliance Ministers Finian McGrath and John Halligan said they intended to join the protests that are anticipated to take place when Mr Trump arrives as part of a European trip, which will see him participate in events to mark the centenary of the end of the first World War.

The White House said that Mr Trump’s visit would seek “to renew the deep and historic ties between our two nations”.

Mr Varadkar and his predecessor Enda Kenny both invited the US president to come to Ireland when meeting him in Washington in the last two years. Mr Trump, who owns Doonbeg Golf Club in Co Clare, told Mr Varadkar in March that he would “love to” visit Ireland, saying it was “a great country”.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said said “Ireland is an open and tolerant nation, committed to peace and democracy. Trump’s values are not our values and there should be no welcome for this man”.

‘Unwelcome visit’

“Under normal circumstances, the president of the USA would be welcomed in Ireland, whether he or she was Democrat or Republican,” he said. “There are deep and permanent bonds of friendship between the peoples of Ireland and the United States that will long outlast the Trump presidency. But we are not in anything like normal circumstances when it comes to this unwelcome visit.”

Mr McGrath told the Sunday Independent he would “not roll out the red carpet” for the US president and that he believed the policies being followed by Mr Trump were causing “major problems in the world especially around equality and immigration”.

He said he intended to raise his concerns about the proposed visit with the Taoiseach when the Cabinet meets this week.

Mr Halligan told the Sunday Business Post that “if I was to meet him, there’d be an argument.

“I hope he does come, because there’ll be a massive demonstration”.

Both Ministers said they would boycott an State events any State events with Mr Trump and also join demonstrations against the visit.

The Government has said the visit will offer an opportunity to follow up on the issues discussed when Mr Varadkar met Mr Trump in the White House to mark St Patrick’s Day “including migration, trade, climate change and human rights”.

‘Shameful’

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett described the Government’s decision to welcome Mr Trump to Ireland as “shameful.”

Mr Boyd Barrett, who was one of the organisers of large protests against the US led Iraq war in 2003, said he has already contacted other groups, organisations and parties with a view to organising major demonstrations when the US president arrives.

“Opposing Trump is not a protest against the American people, it is a protest in solidarity with the tens of millions of American’s who are the victims and opponents of Trump’s hateful politics,” he said.