'I don’t believe in the business of not talking to people' - Finian McGrath slams Government ministers who won't meet Donald Trump
MINISTER for Disabilities Finian McGrath has criticised the idea that government ministers would refuse to meet US Presidential hopeful Donald Trump when he visits Ireland later this month.
Mr McGrath emphasised that while he does not agree with all of Mr Trump’s political views, he likened the idea of shunning the US businessman to “modern day political correctness”.
“I don’t believe in the business of not talking to people. I would defend anyone’s right to free speech, particularly those whom I don’t agree with,” Mr McGrath told Independent.ie.
Two other Cabinet members, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar and Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, have said they would be willing to meet with Mr Trump when he visits his resort in Doonbeg, Co Clare.
At an event in Dublin City during the week, Mr Varadkar hit out at some of Mr Trump’s previous remarks as "sexist" and "misogynistic".
He was speaking after Taoiseach Enda Kenny labelled some of the US businessman's speeches as "racist" and dangerous".
But Mr Varadkar told Independent.ie today that that he would repeat his criticisms of Mr Trump during a face to face meeting.
“I meet people I disagree with all the time. I’d also say what I said to his face,” Mr Varadkar added.
And a spokesman for Mr Creed said:
“The Minister understands that Mr Trump is visiting in a private capacity. Minister Creed is willing to meet with visitors if requested to discuss potential trade opportunities for the Irish Agri-Food sector.”
Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who greeted Mr Trump at the end of a red carpet at Shannon AIrport ahead of his previous visit, refused to comment.
“The minister has nothing to say about Mr Trump's travel plans.,” his spokesman said.
At around lunchtime, the office of An Taoiseach circulated the Government’s official response in relation to the prospect of meeting Trump.
“Mr Trump, like every tourist, will be more than welcome to Ireland and we hope he has a pleasant stay,”the response said.
A similar response was given by Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan.
However, there is protests planned to coincide with the visit due to Mr Trump’s remarks about Mexicans, women and Muslims.
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett launched a stinging attack on Mr Trump today, who he described as a “dangerous and vile racist”, a “warmonger” and “sexist”.
Mr Boyd Barrett told RTÉ’s ‘Today with Seán O’Rourke’ that he and his colleagues will be holding a protest during the visit.
Speaking on the same programme, Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O’Brien said the visit should be shunned.
“If I can't stand up against someone who accuses a whole race of mexicans as robbers and murderers… it’s important we stand up against that.”
Within the Co Clare constituency, the view towards the visit is mixed.
Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley said he has “no problem” meeting Mr Trump to discuss his investment but insisted that he completely disagrees with some of his political view.s
Newly elected TD for Clare Dr Michael Harty said:
“I would welcome his visit. I don’t have a problem with it. He has developed a fantastic resort in Doonbeg.”
Dr Harty added that he does not agree with some of Mr Trump’s political views either.