Donald Trump and Taoiseach’s invitation to the White House

 

Sir, – When I read President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigration, I was instantly transported back to the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon where, amid tents, floor mattresses and a smattering of pots and pans, I have sat with Syrian refugees – from infants to the elderly – whose lives have been destroyed by the evil and indifference of others.

I am reminded of the people I have had the privilege of spending time with – their tears at what they have lost, their pain at not knowing where loved ones are and their strong desire for home.

They have found themselves in a foreign land not because of their own actions or wishes but by the heartlessness of so-called leaders who believe human life to be a commodity to be traded, used or extinguished to suit their own interests.

All over the world, from Lebanon to Ethiopia to Pakistan, the refugees I have met and the people – often poor themselves – who shelter and feed them are motivated by the strongest human instincts of compassion and love.

In the end, compassion always wins out over fear. –Yours, etc,

ÉAMONN MEEHAN,

Executive Director,

Trócaire,

Maynooth,

Co Kildare.

Sir, – It is clear that Donald Trump has little, if any, regard for international conventions or for the human rights embedded in them. This has been most explicitly demonstrated in his executive order on immigration which has caused uproar both inside and outside of the United States of America. It is within this context that there have been calls for the Taoiseach to cancel his planned visit to the White House on St Patrick’s Day. Despite increasing pressure, it is reported that he “will defy” these calls and “will act in the interest of the Irish people”.

The writer Iris Young once noted that modern injustice and oppression are often caused by the unconscious “everyday practices of a well-intentioned liberal society” seeking to maintain its established privilege. Enda Kenny cannot claim to be unaware of the injustice that is inherent in Donald Trump’s policies and, as such, by proceeding with his planned trip, he will be a witting accomplice in those policies. As our elected representative, his defiance will taint us all; this cannot be allowed to happen. – Yours, etc,

FINTAN SHEERIN,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – In view of the many mass shootings and bombings over too many years committed by people born in the US and raised as American citizens, would it be reasonable to impose a blanket ban on all US citizens from entering the country, until such time as a way can be found to separate the terrorists and madmen from all other Americans? – Yours, etc,

VINCENT HEARNE.

Nabinaud, France.

A chara, – According to Maolsheachlann Ó Ceallaigh (January 30th) protesting against systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia and the like is mere “victimology”, while requiring people to speak respectfully about others – the so-called PC culture – is an oppression worthy of the Inquisition.

Who is playing the victim now? – Is mise,

CADHLA McDONNELL,

State College,

Pennsylvania.

Sir, – While I understand the calls for the Taoiseach not to present Donald Trump with the customary spray of shamrock, boycotting the proceedings would be missing the opportunity to send a powerful positive message.

I suggest that we send President Trump a spray of shamrock wrapped in a rainbow ribbon, to symbolise the dedication of Irish people to equality and compassion that were dramatically demonstrated in our May 22nd referendum. – Yours, etc,

RONÁN M CONROY,

Dublin 8.

Sir, – A recent MIT Technology Review magazine article calculated the price of Donald Trump’s 1,000-mile wall to be around US$38 billion, excluding the ongoing costs of maintenance. That could not be carried out from Mexican soil (unless Trump subcontracted the work to Mexican labour); so a strip of America beyond the wall would have to be sacrificed.

The East Germans, using men and small power tools, found that a three-yard strip was enough for maintaining their barbed wire and post “Iron Curtain.”

But Mr Trump’s wall is variously described as being between 30ft and 50ft high. It will require heavy mechanical equipment, not least to control the vegetation beyond it.

A 10-yard strip would be needed. That amounts to a sacrifice of 3.6 acres for every mile of wall. Or 3,636 acres freely torn from America and ceded to Mexico. And all without a single shot being fired; another first for The Donald as a property czar.

Surely, with our long history of agriculture and putting manners on a far richer and more powerful neighbour, we can provide a few useful suggestions to help our Mexican friends exploit this bounty? – Yours, etc,

MALCOLM

ROSS-MacDONALD

Birr,

Co Offaly.

Sir, If Steve Jobs’s Syrian father, a college dropout who had been jailed for political activism, was excluded from US in the 1950s, where might Apple and all that ingenious technology be today? – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL ANDERSON,

Balgriffin,

Dublin 13.

Sir, – I recall as a child reading a book called What Katy Did, followed by others, such as What Katy Did at School and What Katy Did Next.

I remember those books each morning as I open my newspaper to see what naughty things Donald has done now.

Would it be possible to publish each day a single column listing the previous day’s actions of President Trump? It could be called “What Donald Did”, “What Donald Did Next”, “Trump’s Tricks”, or perhaps simply “Yuge Decisions”. – Yours, etc,

AOIFE LORD,

Tankardstown,

Co Meath.

Sir, – Enda Kenny is in danger, at best, of being completely ignored by Mr Trump, and at worst subject to a blatantly derogatory tweet of the kind a spoilt six-year-old child would come up with.

I would urge Mr Kenny to not subject himself, and by association Ireland, to such gross humiliation. – Yours, etc,

ANTHONY MORAN,

Salthill,

Galway.

Sir, – Donald Trump is raising needless fears about refugees. Americans are far more in danger from the lack of gun control in the United States than from any putative terrorist. According to the FBI, 11,222 Americans were murdered in 2015 by firearms. This is more than three times the number of people murdered in the twin towers on 9/11. But, of course, desperate refugees are easier targets than the members of the National Rifle Association. – Yours, etc,

VALERIE BURRIS,

Churchtown,

Dublin 14.

Sir, – Access to the American administration is facilitated by Enda Kenny’s goodwill visit to the White House on March 17th. Without access, how can you have dialogue? – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL NELSON,

Stillorgan,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Did Minister for Children Katherine Zappone stop to consider the implications of her outburst about US customs and immigration at Irish airports? It is quite right that Ireland should register its protest at the recent decision to block entry to the US from certain countries. This is not the way to do it.

If either country decides to terminate the pre clearance facility, the US will simply process passengers from Ireland in the same way as passengers from every other EU country. That means they will clear formalities in the port of arrival. That entails a delay of many hours for each passenger. Nothing will have been achieved.

Each day this month twelve flights depart our shores for the US. In the other months of the year, that number is even higher.

If we lose that facility, it means that upwards of 2,500 passengers each day will be seriously inconvenienced. For what? Absolutely nothing.

In her capacity as a Government Minister, I expect Ms Zappone to be a bit more considered than she was recently and to act as a member of a Government that carries collective responsibility.

She does not enjoy the same freedoms that someone from outside Cabinet has to spout off at will about issues outside her brief. – Yours, etc,

DFM DUFFY,

Cabinteely,

Dublin 18.