Thursday 8 December 2016

Revealed: Details of Taoiseach's ten minute phone call with Donald Trump

Luke Byrne & Daire Courtney

Published 10/11/2016 | 11:30

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has revealed he has already raised the issue of immigration with US president-elect Donald Trump.

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Mr Kenny spoke with Mr Trump by phone late last night.  Asked today about the conversation which took place, Mr Kenny today said a number of issues were raised.

“I had a very good conversation with the president elect, he understands Ireland very well. He was complementary of the decisions made about the economy here.

“He was looking forward to doing business with Ireland and I asked him specifically about Patrick’s Day and he’s looking forward to continuing that tradition over many years,” he said.

“And I confirmed to him that we would work very closely with the administration that he appoints in January.

“And obviously we’d have a lot of discussion about the details that are important for us as pointed out yesterday in my letter to him and to the vice president, the importance of maybe putting immigration back on the administration’s budget, Northern Ireland, the peace process and so on.”

Mr Trump gave an election pledge to drastically overhaul America’s immigration policy, an issue of serious  concern for the undocumented Irish in the US.

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Mr Kenny was speaking ahead of announcing the line-up for Ireland’s Edge, a conference which explores the intersection of the worlds of science, technology, engineering and mathematics with the world of the arts, at Trinity College Dublin.

A statement from the Taoiseach's office earlier this morning said: "both men committed to working together to the mutual benefit of Ireland and the United States."

 It added: "The President Elect confirmed to the Taoiseach that in the spirit of the strong ties between the two countries, the long standing tradition of Taoisigh attending the White House for St. Patrick's Day celebrations would continue and extended an invitation to the Taoiseach in that regard for next year 2017."

The St Patrick’s Day visit sees the Taoiseach present the President with a bowl of shamrocks in a ceremony that dates back to 1952 when the Irish Ambassador sent a small box of shamrocks to Harry Truman.

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In 2009, Barack Obama became the first President to have the White House fountain turned green for St Patrick’s Day, in the same way Chicago’s river is dyed every year.

The Taoiseach made a swift U-turn on his opinion of the President Elect yesterday, having previously called him “dangerous” and “racist” in the Dáil.

He yesterday softened his remarks by saying that he believed that the racist and dangerous comments were made “in the heat of battle.”

"I recall a comment made in the Dail when asked if I would agree that comments made in the heat of battle, in a primary election, by the president-elect, before he was nominated formally as a candidate, were racist and dangerous. And I said 'yes', in respect of those comments,” the Taoiseach said.

"I listened very carefully to the president-elect this morning, and the first thing he said was, it was now time to heal wounds, to build partnerships, to work constructively with people of the US and every other country and people who want to work with him.”

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern yesterday stressed the need to have a “love-in” with Donald Trump’s team very quickly.

Protests continue in California, Oregon, New York and several other states following the election of Donald Trump. Hundreds of people took to the streets chanting ‘not my President’, causing gridlock in built-up areas.

Read more: 'Trump is not my President' - Windows smashed, bins on fire as protests against Donald Trump's victory continue in several states

Hillary Clinton yesterday urged her supporters to give him a chance to lead, and Barack Obama promised a smooth transition of power. Donald Trump will visit Barack Obama at the White House today.

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