Diarmaid Ferriter: Supine pragmatism will define Irish dealings with Trump

Ireland’s foreign policy and neutrality has always had a degree of ambiguity

The wearying of the green: Bertie Ahern presents George W Bush  with a bowl of shamrocks on  March 16th, 2007, four years into the Iraq War. Photograph: Reuters/Jim Young

The wearying of the green: Bertie Ahern presents George W Bush with a bowl of shamrocks on March 16th, 2007, four years into the Iraq War. Photograph: Reuters/Jim Young

A variety of voices will be heard in the next few weeks insisting that Ireland can and should have its diplomatic cake and eat it during the Trump era, and that Enda Kenny should have no qualms about going to the White House for the annual St Patrick’s week party. This will continue a long process of compartmentalisation when it comes to the US and Irish foreign policy, with its attendant history of currying favour, enlisting help and shadow language to avoid awkward realities.

Former senior diplomat Seán Donlan was adamant this week that the tradition should continue because Irish politicians have been and can continue to be vocal in their criticism of American foreign policy. He cited the example of Garret FitzGerald criticizing Ronald Reagan’s policy in South America when Reagan visited Ireland in 1984. That’s because Ireland does not “kowtow” to anyone in the framing of its foreign policy, as a “sovereign, independent” nation.

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