Tuesday 22 January 2019

Taoiseach challenged on Irish response if Trump wanted to deliver a Dáil speech in any potential visit

US president Donald Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
US president Donald Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The Taoiseach has been challenged on what the Irish response would be if controversial US President Donald Trump wanted to deliver a speech in the Dáil.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan asked Leo Varadkar if an opportunity to address the Oireachtas would be included in any potential visit by Mr Trump and warning that it would result in inevitable protests.

He said that “incredible men” like South African anti-Apartheid hero Nelson Mandela and the first Indian prime minister Pandit Nehru had previously been given the honour and argued that Mr Trump hasn't earned it.

Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny invited Mr Trump to visit Ireland during his St Patrick’s Day visit to Washington last year.

Mr Varadkar has since said the invitation still stands, though he had previously said before becoming Taoiseach he "wouldn't be keen" on such a visit by Mr Trump.

Mr Ryan said to Mr: “With President Trump it seems one never knows what he’s going to say.

“He might well get the bowl of Shamrock and say to you ‘I’m coming over I can’t wait to meet you in Dáil Éireann. What do we do then Taoiseach?”.

Mr Varadkar ran out of time in answering various TDs' questions that had been put to him in the Dáil this afternoon.

But he said briefly to Mr Ryan that there are “no preparations or plans” for a visit by Mr Trump.

Mr Ryan had told the Dáil that that the speaker of Britain’s House of Commons, John Bercow, had said that addressing parliament is not an automatic right but “an earned honour” and Mr Trump hadn’t earned that honour.

The Dublin Bay South TD asked how Mr Trump speaking in the Oireachtas would be dealt with.

“How would we manage the protest that would inevitably have to take place because he has not earned that honour?” he added.

Mr Ryan criticised Mr Trump’s policies on Palestine and climate change and accused him of “economic nationalism which is dividing and tearing up the international order”.

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