Friday 19 January 2018

Kenny insists he won't answer to Farage as he continues to deny calling Trump a racist

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Jason O'Brien

Jason O'Brien

The Taoiseach has tetchily dismissed claims by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage that he begin his much-anticipated visit to the White House on Thursday by apologising to US President Donald Trump.

And Enda Kenny has insisted that his criticism of Mr Trump last May for using “racist and dangerous” language did not mean he thought the then-Presidential candidate was racist and dangerous.

The Taoiseach was in Washington when asked to respond to Mr Farage’s comments on RTE Radio that he is “wasting his time” going to the White House because of “the vile things” he had said about Mr Trump previously.

Mr Farage added that Mr Trump – who is a friend and political ally – “won’t have forgotten” the comments by Mr Kenny, and that an apology would be “a good starting point”.

“Well I haven’t come to America to answer to Nigel Farage,” Mr Kenny said when asked about Mr Farage’s suggestion.

“I am the leader of the Irish government, and very proud and privileged to be so.

“I’m responding to an invitation sent by the President of the United States and I’m very happy to go to the White House tomorrow and to continue the traditional connection between Ireland and the United States…

“So I’ve nothing further to say in respect of comments made by Mr Farage.”

In May of last year, Mr Kenny described the then-Presidential candidate's comments as racist and dangerous, and added "there is an alternative to vote for". They have become an issue again in the past 24 hours.

The issue was also raised earlier on Wednesday during an interview on US network CNBC, when the Taoiseach was asked why he had accepted the invitation to the White House given what he had said about Mr Trump.

During that interview and in a subsequent press briefing on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Kenny again insisted that he had not called Mr Trump racist and dangerous.

“I did not refer to the person of the now-President as being racist. My comment was in respect of his language,” he said.

Pressed further, Mr Kenny denied that if someone’s language is racist, then they are racist: “It doesn’t follow, at all”.

“I’m not into English classes… I’m telling you the language that was used on that occasion was, in my view, not language that I would use [but] that was not related to his personality,” he added.

Earlier, when asked just how “vile” Mr Kenny’s comments about Mr Trump were, Mr Farage said: “How much more insulting can you be than to call some one racist. I think he needs to apologise.

Mr Kenny has said in the past that he doesn't regret making the comments.

Online Editors

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