Thursday 15 November 2018

Meet the team bringing the giant 'Trump Baby' blimp to Ireland for US President's visit

A six-meter high cartoon baby blimp of U.S. President Donald Trump is flown as a protest against his visit, in Parliament Square in London, England, Friday, July 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Robert Stevens)
A six-meter high cartoon baby blimp of U.S. President Donald Trump is flown as a protest against his visit, in Parliament Square in London, England, Friday, July 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Robert Stevens)

Rachel Farrell

The organisers behind the 'Trump Baby' blimp are on a mission to send the balloon on a worldwide tour - and Ireland is their next stop.

The blimp, which depicts Donald Trump wearing a nappy and holding a smartphone, is set to come to Ireland in November during the visit of the controversial American president.

The White House has confirmed Mr Trump's two-day visit, although an exact date has yet to be formalised. However, it's widely believed he will arrive in Dublin following the centenary of the World War I Armistice ceremony in Paris.

The balloon made headlines over the summer when Mr Trump visited the UK, and one Irish woman wanted to see the same thing happen over here.

(Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
(Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Jennifer Cassidy, an Oxford University lecturer, took to Twitter to share an open letter with the organisers.

"It really just came about because of the tweet I sent, and it seemed to gain quite a bit of traction and take off," Ms Cassidy told Independent.ie.

"The makers of the balloon then contacted me and Trump Baby and said they would be definitely up for coming to Ireland and I was to contact them to help organise if I wished, which I have done."

And now the original Trump Baby team have confirmed the visit, after raising a surplus amount of money from their UK crowd-funding campaign. 

A blimp resembling U.S. President Donald Trump floats above demonstrators marching to protest against the visit of Trump, in Edinburgh, Scotland: Reuters/Andrew Yates
A blimp resembling U.S. President Donald Trump floats above demonstrators marching to protest against the visit of Trump, in Edinburgh, Scotland: Reuters/Andrew Yates

The team are hoping that a similar "colourful and inspiring" protest will take place in Ireland in November.

"We made more money than we needed on our crowdfunder to get the Trump Baby up and running so we decided that the best use of that money would be to send him on an international tour to globally troll the president wherever possible," one of the ‘Trump Baby Sitters’ Kevin Smith told Independent.ie.

Demonstrators fly a blimp portraying U.S. President Donald Trump, in Parliament Square, during the visit by Trump and First Lady Melania Trump in London, Britain July 13, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Demonstrators fly a blimp portraying U.S. President Donald Trump, in Parliament Square, during the visit by Trump and First Lady Melania Trump in London, Britain July 13, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

"And in terms of progressive protest and people on the streets, Ireland has set the bar really in this last year with the victories around women's reproductive freedoms and equal marriage. 

2So we are presuming that Ireland's protests against Trump's misogyny, xenophobia and trashing the climate will be equally effective, colourful and inspiring."

A 'Baby Trump' balloon rises after being inflated in London's Parliament Square, as part of the protests against the visit of US President Donald Trump to the UK. Photo credit: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
A 'Baby Trump' balloon rises after being inflated in London's Parliament Square, as part of the protests against the visit of US President Donald Trump to the UK. Photo credit: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

Their goal is to inspire people to come together against "what Trump stands for" as well as to stand up for the rights of others.

"On the one hand, the Trump Baby is a light-hearted way to articulate to the President people's low opinion of his inflated ego, his petulance and above all his disgusting politics of hate and division," Mr Smith explained.

"But on another level, it's also about inspiring ordinary people to come together and in their communities and organise in opposition to what Trump stands for. 

"We need to be actively standing up for the rights of migrants and refugees, we need to work out ways to oppose the sleazy patriarchy that Trump represents, and we urgently need to be pushing back against the fossil fuel companies that Trump is enabling to scupper a safe and liveable climate for everyone."

Ms Cassidy, who is a lecturer in philosophy, politics and economics, says the calls for the balloon to come to Ireland have received mixed reactions.

"I know around 80pc agree but there is a strange small segment who disagree. I of course do not mind disagreement, and everyone is entitled of course, but it’s those who disagree without any action themselves or viable alternatives methods.

"Trump’s ego is definitely his weakness so traditional forms to protests in my opinion won’t work."

The Green Party are organising a protest against Mr Trump’s visit on November 10.

"I'd like to do a candle-lit vigil but we're looking at all options," said party leader Eamon Ryan.

"We want a less divisive, peaceful and more sustainable world," he tweeted.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar encouraged treat Mr Trump’s visit “with respect” during his visit here.

"President Trump is coming in November, he is the President of America. I know a lot of people dislike him. A lot of people object to him,” Mr Varadkar said on RTE Radio One earlier in the week.

"A lot of people disagree with a lot of his policies, just as I do in fact. But he is the President of America. 

"He is elected according to their rules, and the relationship between Ireland and the United States is so strong and so important, much more important than any Irish government or any US administration and I think we have to treat his office with the respect that it deserves."

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