Trump’s proposed Ireland visit drew furious letters to Varadkar from public

One correspondent emailed: ‘For all that is holy, please do not let Trump into Ireland’

US president Donald Trump embraces Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the White House on March 15th, 2018.  Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images

US president Donald Trump embraces Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the White House on March 15th, 2018. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images

 

The proposed visit of US president Donald Trump to Ireland next month, since postponed, drew dozens of angry letters from members of the public to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Correspondence released by Mr Varadkar’s department shows a range of furious responses, all of which were redacted in some form either to protect the identities of the letter writers or censor the ferocity of their complaints or comments about the American president.

The White House announced at the end of August that Mr Trump would be visiting Ireland as part of his trip to Europe for the Armistice Day centenary commemorations on November 11th.

Just over a week later, the trip was cancelled with the White House citing “scheduling reasons”.

In the 11-day period between the announcement of the visit and its cancellation, Mr Varadkar received more than 60 letters, the vast majority of which were complaints from members of the public about Mr Trump’s visit.

Most of the letters, released under the Freedom of Information Act, ask the Taoiseach to withdraw the invitation to Mr Trump or to cancel the visit.

‘Absolutely appalled’

“I am absolutely appalled at you and our government’s invitation to Donald Trump to come on a state visit to Ireland,” one email-writer told him.

“I am writing to state that you did not issue the invitation on my behalf, and you have now lumbered a lot of people in this country who have better things to do, with protesting your decision and with protesting at the time of Trump’s visit. It was not your finest hour, far from it.”

“Seriously, every time you come out in support of Trump you experience a massive backlash,” another correspondent wrote to Mr Varadkar. “Why do you keep putting your hand back on the hot stove?”

The writer lists Mr Trump’s record on immigration, trade, climate change and human rights as reasons why he should not be welcomed. The email is signed off “a thoroughly disgusted and disappointed citizen”. Another writer objected to the US president’s visit “in the strongest possible terms”. They start another sentence: “As an Irish citizen, qualified psychologist working in mental health and a reasonable human being”, before the line is cut short by a department official’s redaction pen.

“The government of which you are part is downgrading forever our traditional Céad Mile Fáilte by allowing that person visit Ireland,” wrote another member of the public.

‘Not welcome’

“I feel we as a nation need to stand up and tell him he is not welcome here,” said another.

One complainant told Mr Varadkar that the invitation to Mr Trump was “an insult to all those who fought and to those who worked to establish democracy in this country.”

“For all that is holy, please do not let Trump into Ireland,” emailed another.

A number of letter-writers praised Mr Varadkar’s speech during the visit of Pope Francis and one urged him not to “undo that by endorsing” Mr Trump’s visit.

“Cancelling this ridiculous visit would have a far bigger impact and show it is the will of the Irish people that matters,” said another.

One writer advises the Taoiseach that he should display signs welcoming US first lady Melania Trump “and only Melania”, hire the Corrigan Brothers band to play There’s No One as Irish as Barack O’Bama at the airport for Mr Trump’s arrival and “find the giant Trump baby balloon and fly it high”.

Good relations

A handful of writers, however, urge Mr Varadkar to proceed with Mr Trump’s visit; several say the visit should go ahead to maintain good Irish-American relations.

One correspondent even recommends topics to discuss with Mr Trump – “golf and the flight over” – and what not to discuss. They include the Taoiseach’s heritage as the son of an Indian immigrant – “I see no reason why this would cause issue as long as you do not bring it up” – his sexual orientation, and the fact that Mr Trump once stated that Ireland was in the United Kingdom.

“This one was fairly embarrassing,” says the writer.