Wednesday 14 November 2018

White House is 'all over the place' as Trump's visit to Ireland descends into chaos

  • Trump had been due in Ireland on 12 November
  • Cancellation of visit will be a relief to Taoiseach and Irish Government
Donald Trump with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at The Capitol in Washington in March
Donald Trump with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at The Capitol in Washington in March
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

US President Donald Trump has cancelled his visit to Ireland planned for later this year, Independent.ie understands.

Sources say the controversial trip, planned for November 12, will not now go ahead.

The development will come as a massive relief to the Government.

Mr Trump was planning to spend one day in Dublin before travelling to Doonbeg, Co Clare where he owns a golf link.

Donald Trump and Leo Varadkar
Donald Trump and Leo Varadkar

The stopover was on his way home from Armistice Day commemorations in France on November 11.

Sources have indicated to Independent.ie that his entire European itinerary is now under review - but the Irish element is set to be cancelled.

Much like when the US President announced he was coming, the Government here has been caught totally unaware.

A spokesperson for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was earlier unable to confirm the story even after it was broken on Independent.ie.

However, a Government spokesperson has now confirmed to Independent.ie that the trip has been "postponed due to scheduling reasons".

Speaking at a press conference yesterday evening, The White House said it has not yet made a final decision on whether U.S. President Donald Trump will make a stop in Ireland as part of his trip to Paris later this autumn.

"The president will travel to Paris in November as previously announced. We are still finalizing whether Ireland will be a stop on that trip. As details are confirmed we will let you know,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.

The Taoiseach’s Office has said they were informed that US President Donald Trump was postponing his visit to Ireland by the Irish Ambassador to the US Dan Mulhall.

In a statement tonight, the Taoiseach’s spokesperson said the Government “note” White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders suggestion that Trump administration are still “finalising” whether the President will travel to Ireland or not.

 “Our Statement reflects what the Irish Ambassador to the US was informed by US authorities,” the Taoiseach’s spokesperson said.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met US President Donald Trump in Washington earlier this year (Niall Carson/PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met US President Donald Trump in Washington earlier this year (Niall Carson/PA)

“We note the statement from Sarah Sanders. If there are further developments we will let you know,” he added.

The US President had been due here on 12 November, something which Taoiseach Leo Varadkar admitted earlier this month wasn't expected.

Speaking on The Marty Squad on RTE Radio One on 2 September, the Taoiseach explained: "It came a little bit out of the blue.

"There is an open invitation to the US President to visit Ireland at any time, I think they've all visited since Reagan, if not before and obviously there's an open invitation for me, or any future Taoiseach, to attend Washington in March.

"We hadn't known until just a couple of days ago that he was going to take the opportunity of his visit to Paris for the Armistice commemorations, commemorating a hundred years of the end of the First World War, to visit Dublin, and also he's going to go to Doonbeg too.

"We've got to work out on a programme and all the rest of it but I think any programme we will have will have to respect the fact that we will inaugurating our own President on the 11th of November.

"And also will have to make sure that we have enough time and space to commemorate the Armistice because bear in mind hundreds of thousands of Irish people, including a lot of people from this city, fought in the first world war. We need to make sure that's appropriate and fits around that as well."

Political parties including Labour and the Greens had said they would be protesting against Mr Trump's visit.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has claimed the expected cancellation of US President Donald Trump's planned visit to Ireland reflects a relationship between the two countries that is "not functioning".

Mr Martin said the whole episode has been "a very unedifying experience".

And he pointed to the lack of a US ambassador to Ireland for two years when he said: "I think it’s time to try and get this relationship sorted".

He said the way Mr Trump's visit and expected cancellation played out has been "extraordinary".

He said the Government hadn’t been alerted that the visit was on in the first instance.

"It was a bolt out of the blue. Then suddenly, in a similar manner it emerged that the visit is off."

Mr Martin said it showed the need for some indication of when a US ambassador would be appointed as in the past they had been a "key conduit" with American Presidents.

"I think the Government should put a bit of pressure on to get an ambassador at least identified," he said.

Asked if he had ever seen such haphazard organisations for a visit by a US President Mr Martin, a former foreign affairs minister said: "No I haven’t I have never seen anything like this before."

Mr Martin said that bar Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's controversial joke about helping Mr Trump in relation to his Co Clare golf club, the St Patrick's Day festivities in the US "went reasonably well".

He added: "I’ve never seen anything like this, genuinely.

"This is reflective of a relationship that is now not functioning, that needs to get sorted and needs structures in place."

He also said it could be symptomatic of how Mr Trump operates, making decisions and undoing them quickly.

Mr Martin said discussions with the US President are needed on trade and protectionism, the undocumented Irish, foreign direct investment and dispelling the perception that Ireland is a tax haven and the European Union.

He said: "Those are the issues I think we need to reset the button on."

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section