Sunday 19 May 2019

US President Donald Trump to visit Ireland 'within weeks'

Donald Trump is expected to meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during his visit
Donald Trump is expected to meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during his visit

Cormac McQuinn and Kevin Doyle

US PRESIDENT Donald Trump is set to visit Ireland within weeks, US-based sources have said.

Mr Trump is set to travel to Europe at the start of June.

He is expected to use his Co Clare resort at Doonbeg as a base for his attendance at D-Day commemorations in France.

Independent.ie understands that Mr Trump will travel to Britain for a State visit between June 3 and 5.

He is to travel to Ireland on June 5 before flying to France for the World War II memorial the following day.

Mr Trump will then return to Ireland and will be in Co Clare on June 7 and 8.

Mr Trump is expected to meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during his visit and the US President is likely to play a round of golf at Doonbeg.

The White House is expected to confirm details of the visit within the next week.

An advance team of White House officials and Secret Service agents is due in Clare in the coming days to scope out logistics and security arrangements.

It follows a previous visit by US officials in recent weeks.

The Taoiseach said the government doesn't have any confirmation for Mr Trump's visit as of yet.

He added: "Protocol dictates that the announcement will be made by the White House rather than by the Irish government.

"But if President Trump comes to Ireland he'll be treated with the respect and given the welcome his office deserves."

Asked about Opposition criticism of the visit and claims Mr Trump is not welcome in Ireland, Mr Varadkar said "The President of America is always welcome in Ireland just as the Taoiseach and the Irish President are welcome in the United States.

"We've a really strong relationship. It's economic, it's cultural, it's historic.

"It's about our family connections as well.

"I think we have to rise above whoever happens to hold the office, whether it's the Office of the President there or here or Taoiseach, and remember the really important relationship that exists between Ireland and America.

"That has to be the priority."

He said he has "no plans" to play golf with Mr Trump at Doonbeg.

He also responded to criticism of the costs of security for Mr Trump's visit.

Mr Varadkar said: "The US authorities provide much of their own security but any security that we provide from our side would be in line with what you'd expect for a high profile visit."

He gave the example of the Papal visit last year.

Reacting to the news, Health Minister Simon Harris said the Government must respect the office of President but also use the opportunity to stand up to some of his politics.

The minister said he disagrees “with an awful lot of what he stands for”.

“In the United States, we don’t elect their President, like they don’t elect our President or our Taoiseach.

“The President of the United States has every right to visit Ireland and the Taoiseach extended that invitation to him,” Mr Harris said.

“But a respectful relationship involves telling people the truth about how you feel about their position.”

The minister cited Mr Trump’s views on LGBT issues, women’s reproductive health, climate change and the refugee crisis.

“The Taoiseach has never been one to shy away from making his views known and I’m sure he will if the opportunity arises.”

Labour Party senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said Mr Trump’s visit should not facilitated by the State.

“The Irish people do not want Trump to visit here. When he announced a visit previously he quickly cancelled when the level of public resistance to it became clear.

“Now he intends to visit for a few days in June. We know the only reason he wants to come here is to exploit the visit for electoral purposes with the large Irish-American electorate,” he said.

The senator claimed Mr Trump is “the face of hate, racism and division”.

The President was due to come last November but cancelled the trip without an explanation.

On that occasion the planned stopover was on his way home from Armistice Day commemorations in France.

Mr Varadkar reissued the long-standing invitation during his visit to the White House on St Patrick’s Day.

Mr Trump revealed his intention to come to Ireland in 2019 during Mr Varadkar's visit to Washington for St Patrick's Day festivities.

He said: "I'll be coming at some point during the year. I missed it last time, but I would have loved to have been there. It's a special place."

He said he had a "warm spot" for Doonbeg.

Mr Trump is likely to get a warm welcome in Co Clare.

Local minister Pat Breen has already said the visit would be an opportunity to showcase "the most beautiful coastline in Ireland".

However, there are also likely to be protests against the controversial businessman turned politican.

A coalition of activist groups including anti-war protesters and left-wing politicians are planning to demonstrate in Dublin and Clare. The Irish Anti-War Movement is among groups who plan to protest.

Spokesman Jim Roche has accused Mr Trump of escalating the war in Afghanistan and stepping up support for the "horrific regime" in Saudi Arabia.

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