Trump welcome despite controversies, says Varadkar

Government may request visit to take place after Armistice event to avoid protocol clash

US president Donald Trump is to return to Ireland when he comes to Europe to attend the commemorations of the centenary of the end of the first World War on November 11th.

 

President Donald Trump will meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Dublin and almost certainly pay a courtesy call to President Michael D Higgins during his surprise visit to Ireland in November, senior Government sources have said.

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

Mr Trump’s visit is coming “a little bit out of the blue”, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar admitted last night. “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.”

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 1’s The Marty Squad.

A Government spokesman said on Sunday night details of the visit had yet to be notified to it by the US state department but Irish officials were working on the presumption the visit would take place over two days in Dublin and Co Clare, with the US president most likely to stay overnight in the Trump golf resort in Doonbeg, Co Clare. When visiting the UK in July, Mr Trump stayed at his golf resort in Scotland.

UN meeting

The Taoiseach is also likely to meet Mr Trump later this month at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Mr Varadkar, with Tánaiste Simon Coveney, is attending the annual gathering of world leaders in three weeks’ time.

An advance party from Washington, including secret service detail, is expected to travel to Ireland before the end of September

Ireland is vying for a seat on the UN Security Council in 2021-2022, and the Taoiseach and Tánaiste are likely to have several bilateral meetings with UN members during the week.

Mr Trump is also attending the gathering and is expected to address the general assembly on Tuesday, September 25th.

With plans for Mr Trump’s visit to Ireland still in train, an advance party from Washington, including secret service detail, is expected to travel to Ireland before the end of September to assess the logistical needs of the trip.

Any visit to Dublin is likely to be short, officials stressed, with Mr Trump more likely to stay at his hotel in Doonbeg.

It will be an opportunity to follow up on the issues discussed in the White House in March, including migration, trade, climate change and human rights issues

The Government received its first official confirmation of the Trump visit last Tuesday, three days before the White House announced the visit. Mr Trump’s spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said the purpose of the visit was “to renew the deep and historic ties between our two nations”.

Protocol clash

It is understood the Government may press US authorities for the visit to take place after Armistice to avoid a protocol clash. If it takes place before the commemoration, the presidential election will have taken place but the winner of the election will not have been inaugurated. However, the inauguration ceremony will have taken place if Mr Trump visits Ireland on either November 11th or 12th.

A Government spokesman said last night that Mr Varadkar’s understanding was the visit would be brief.

“It will be an opportunity to follow up on the issues discussed in the White House in March, including migration, trade, climate change and human rights issues,” he said.

A spokesman for President Michael D Higgins said the visit and its arrangements were a matter for the Government in the first instance and that the office of the President would publish details of visits by heads of state when arrangements were in place.

“The content of any discussions between the President and visiting heads of state is a matter for the President of Ireland,” said the spokesman.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have both welcomed the decision, while Labour leader Brendan Howlin, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and Richard Boyd-Barrett of Solidarity-People Before Profit have criticised the visit and indicated they will join protests against it.