Sunday 25 August 2019

Trump delay in announcing June visit causes confusion at Government level

‘Differences’: US President Donald Trump is expected to visit Ireland in early June. Picture: Reuters
‘Differences’: US President Donald Trump is expected to visit Ireland in early June. Picture: Reuters

Conor Feehan and Cormac McQuinn

The Government is confused as to why Donald Trump is stalling on announcing his visit to Ireland.

Security checks have already taken place ahead of an expected stay in his Co Clare hotel next month. But the White House appears to be keeping open the possibility of him traveling to Scotland instead.

The Secret Service is believed to also have done an advance inspection at a property he owns there.

There was speculation last night that Mr Trump is unhappy about a demand from the Irish government that he meet with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at a neutral venue.

Mr Varadkar is believed to want to hold talks with the President at Dromoland Castle, which is 50km from the Doonbeg hotel owned by Mr Trump.

The Government is concerned about the optics of allowing the Taoiseach to meet the billionaire at his hotel.

However, sources indicated that they didn't believe an issue over the location of a 'meet and greet' would be enough for the President to drop the Irish leg of his European tour.

"We are all wondering why the White House hasn't announced," a source said.

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar was left stumped when asked whether there were any policy issues on which he agrees with US President Donald Trump.

Ahead of Mr Trump's expected visit next month, Mr Varadkar said he wouldn't criticise anyone taking part in a protest against the Republican president.

But he was caught off guard when asked whether there were any areas where he and Mr Trump were in agreement.

He said: "I'm absolutely sure there are. It's always the differences that spring to mind but let me think about that."

Mr Varadkar added: "A lot of people have been critical of President Trump, including me on occasion, on issues around climate for example, on his opposition to free trade, on the criticisms he has made of the European Union, and on issues such as women's rights.

"I'll have the opportunity to raise those issues with him in person; but I understand that other people will wish to do so by means of protest and in a democracy protest is allowed and welcome."

Mr Varadkar reiterated that protocol dictates the official announcement of a visit has to come from the White House.

Irish Independent

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