Sunday 21 January 2018

U-turn as Kenny open to meeting 'dangerous' Trump

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Tony Gavin
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Tony Gavin
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he would be willing to meet Donald Trump when he visits Ireland later this month - despite describing the US Presidential hopeful as "racist" and "dangerous".

Mr Kenny yesterday completely altered his previous stance by admitting he would have "no difficulty" in meeting Mr Trump if a request was made.

Mr Trump's scheduled visit to Doonbeg on June 24 has caused concern within Government circles. A number of Opposition TDs have called on Mr Kenny to snub Mr Trump during his trip, which also coincides with the official visit to Ireland by outgoing US Vice President Joe Biden.

On Tuesday, Mr Taoiseach's spokesman said the Government has no plans to meet with Mr Trump.

But speaking in Government Buildings yesterday, Mr Kenny opened the door to the prospect of a meeting with the presumptive Republican candidate.

"I would have no difficulty in meeting Donald Trump. But as I say, I've never met the man, I've never spoken to him.

"I've had no communication from him other than when he did write some time ago when we were considering the sale of the shares held by the Government in Aer Lingus…"

During a Dáil debate last month, Mr Kenny described Mr Trump's views as "racist" and "dangerous".

Asked yesterday whether he would communicate these views during any upcoming meeting, Mr Kenny replied; "Certainly. I'd be very happy to."

The Fine Gael leader added: "Some of the comments made by Donald Trump over the past 18 months have been as I described them in the Dáil. I'm not the only one who said that."

Separately yesterday, Mr Kenny said he will hold a public event with British Prime Minister David Cameron next week as he attempts to ramp up support for Britain to remain in the EU.

Mr Kenny said while he and other Irish political figures will not "lecture" voters, the Government is "unashamedly" behind the Remain campaign.

The Fine Gael leader will visit Belfast, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow as the June 23 polling day edges closer.

Mr Kenny said he believes the two sides are neck and neck.

"We are not going to Britain to lecture anybody or tell them what to do but because of the social, political, family connections for so many years, we have a genuine and valid interest in talking to the Irish community and that is who my remarks will be addressed to.

"We are unashamedly proposing that Britain should remain within the EU but we are not in any way wanting to lecture the British electorate," Mr Kenny said.

On the prospect of voters opting to leave, Mr Kenny expressed concern about the impact on the North. "Clearly, there are implications for Northern Ireland; I fail to see how you wouldn't have some kind of requirement for paperwork and validation between here and Northern Ireland," the Taoiseach added.

Irish Independent

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