Sunday 23 April 2017

Taoiseach insists he will stand up to president on White House visit

Mr Kenny said March 17 was not just about a visit to the US president. Photo: Damien Eagers
Mr Kenny said March 17 was not just about a visit to the US president. Photo: Damien Eagers
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted he will publicly face down the new US president on St Patrick's Day.

Amid a growing clamour for the Government to pull out of the traditional 'shamrock ceremony', Mr Kenny told the Dáil he would not "abandon" the Irish-American community.

He has not had any contact with Donald Trump's administration since the travel ban came into force at the weekend, but he said he intended "to visit him in the Oval Office in the White House and say my piece publicly - both before and then".

"President Trump is well used to disagreements and will obviously have many more in the time ahead," Mr Kenny said.

In response to questions from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, he said March 17 was not just about a visit to the US president.

"We have very long-established traditions with the United States. We were those emigrants who first saw Ms Liberty appearing out of the Hudson fog and said we had realised our ambition to be able to go to the United States."

Read more: 'Does anyone really believe Enda Kenny is going to stick it to Donald Trump?' - Taoiseach faces growing calls to abandon White House visit

Mr Martin said there was "no logic to the ban" and while he supported Mr Kenny travelling to Washington, he believed a letter outlining the Irish Government's view should be sent in advance.

"The Irish Government should make it crystal clear to President Trump that it opposes it," he said.

Other Opposition parties went further, with Paul Murphy of the AAA-PBP asking: "Does anyone really believe that Enda Kenny is going to go and stick it to Donald Trump and tell him what he really thinks?"

Labour party leader Brendan Howlin said the visit should be called off if it was going to be "a happy, clappy, shamrockery event that has no political content but has enormous emotional content".

"I don't think anybody can stick it to Donald Trump because he doesn't listen," Mr Howlin added.

Irish Independent

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