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Saturday 16 December 2017

Trump migrant remarks are 'dangerous and racist', says Taoiseach

US presidential candidate Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters
US presidential candidate Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has broken from normal diplomatic protocol to describe comments made by US presidential candidate Donald Trump as "racist and dangerous".

On a visit to Washington last month, the Taoiseach chose his words in relation to Mr Trump very carefully.

But in the Dáil yesterday, he criticised the Republican candidate after persistent questioning from Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin and the Anti-Austerity Alliance's Richard Boyd Barrett.

Initially, the Taoiseach insisted: "There will be two candidates in the election and it will be a matter for the US people. Whoever is elected by the US electorate, the world will have to deal with that decision. This is always how it has been following presidential elections."

However, referring to Mr Trump's promise to ban Muslims from entering the US, Mr Martin said other governments had indicated that they would not accept any attempt to impose an exclusion on travel based on religion.

Mr Martin also asked the Taoiseach to confirm that he would not host Mr Trump on a visit to Ireland "as part of an attempt to moderate his image in the coming months".

Finance Minister Michael Noonan famously stood at the bottom of a red carpet at Shannon Airport to welcome Mr Trump to Ireland two years ago.

Mr Boyd Barrett told the Dáil that Trump had "frightening, dangerous and extremely alarming views.

"Mr Trump has talked about wiping people out across the Middle East and massively escalating US military action in that region," he said.

In response, Mr Kenny said that he would not tolerate "any situation where religion or discrimination would apply in terms of proposals from another leader or government".

However, he tried to resist making any direct criticism of Mr Trump, saying: "The Deputy asked me to presume what we would do in Ireland, were the US people to elect Donald Trump. I am sure people would be equally interested in North Korea, Russia, Mexico and the Muslim world if the US people were to elect him."

But under further pressure, he then added: "If Trump's comments are racist and dangerous, which they are, there is an alternative to vote for."

Mr Kenny also noted that he disagreed with Hillary Clinton's objections to Norwegian Air's plans to fly from Cork to the US, as revealed by the Irish Independent.

"I believe it has enormous potential to do for long-haul flights what Ryanair did for short-haul flights," he said.

Later, at an event in Dublin, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar described previous remarks by Mr Trump as "sexist" and "misogynistic".

"I think any reasonable person would agree that some of the comments he has made are racist, particularly in relation to Latinos and also many of the things he has said are sexist," Mr Varadkar said.

Irish Independent

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