Wednesday 16 October 2019

Government expects 'clarity' within days on Trump's visit here

US president Donald Trump. AP Photo/Alex Brandon
US president Donald Trump. AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Cormac McQuinn and Laura Lynott

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has insisted there is "no row" with the White House over a trip to Ireland by US President Donald Trump and the Government expects "clarity" on the visit within days.

It comes as it emerged that Mr Trump's son Eric visited the family's hotel and golf resort at Doonbeg, Co Clare, over the weekend as part of a business trip.

US officials have been involved in planning for the president and his wife Melania to stay at the hotel so they can use it as a base to attend D-Day commemorations in France in early June after a State visit to Britain.

However, there have been reports that uncertainty over whether or not the visit will go ahead is due to a dispute between the Irish Government and the Trump administration over where Mr Trump would meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

The Government is said to favour a meeting at a neutral venue away from Doonbeg. Dromoland Castle has been touted as a possible location.

Last night, Mr Coveney said he could not confirm that Mr Trump was coming to Ireland.

But he insisted: "There's certainly no row over Doonbeg versus other locations."

Mr Coveney said the reason for the uncertainty was that "the US are essentially working out the president's visit to the EU, what's going to be a private element of that visit and what will be very public. In that context, they're looking at Ireland".

"We have been talking to them about that to make sure that, if they do decide to come to Ireland, that it works," he said.

"It's certainly not appropriate for me to announce details of that until the US announces it themselves.

"That's what protocol determines and I expect we'll get clarity on that in the next couple of days."

Asked on RTÉ Radio if he would like to see Mr Trump visit Ireland, Mr Coveney said the US president "should always be welcomed in Ireland if he wants to come here".

He added: "It would be no secret that many of the foreign policy initiatives that the US has taken under this president are decisions that I would be uncomfortable with and the Government would be uncomfortable with.

"That being said, the relationship between [the US] and Ireland is one that certainly demands the facilitation of the visit of a US president if he decides to come."

Meanwhile, residents and business people in Doonbeg, Co Clare, believe Mr Trump's visit will go ahead.

Tommy Tubridy, from Tubridy's Bar, said the US president's son Eric had just spent the weekend at the family's golf resort.

"Of course it would be a disappointment if [President] Trump didn't come but I'm confident he will be visiting us," he added.

Irish Independent

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