Saturday 24 August 2019

Kevin Doyle: 'Trump conveniently got what he wanted - lots of free publicity for his hotel'

Leo Varadkar (left) greets US President Donald Trump. Picture: PA
Leo Varadkar (left) greets US President Donald Trump. Picture: PA
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Donald Trump's definition of "convenient" is as loose as his relationship with the truth.

The US president has clocked up in the region of 1,500km for the 'handiness' of staying in west Clare in between visits to Britain and France.

Of course, what he really means is that his European trip to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings presented a good opportunity to promote his loss-making hotel.

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And, if we're really honest with ourselves, that's all that mattered to 'The Donald'. In his eyes, we are the land of 18-hole greens.

Trump made it clear during his only public engagement in Ireland that he couldn't even be bothered to read his briefing notes before meeting Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

But do we actually care? If any previous president of the United States came to this country and told us that Brexit would be "very, very good" for us, we'd be having conniptions.

When Trump compared our Border situation to his Mexican wall, we shrugged our shoulders. There was no burst of panic or outrage beyond what was already planned by a couple of hundred protesters corralled a safe distance away from Shannon Airport.

As the 'New York Times' reported yesterday, Trump's comments on our Border "were the latest example on this European trip of the president's glancing knowledge of political issues that are often deeply divisive in the countries he visits".

The Taoiseach set him straight and Trump performed an immediate 180-degree turn upon realising we want to stop a border, not erect one.

The American press described the two leaders as "an awkward match" - but the president reckoned they had "become friends over the last very short period of time".

"The prime minister has done a fantastic job," he assured us.

Again the statement was fairly meaningless but it's better than being called a "stone-cold loser", as happened to the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

A journalist asked whether the president had anything to say about the fact Michael D Higgins described his climate change policy as "pernicious".

The better question might have been whether Trump knows the meaning of pernicious, or that Ireland even has a president.

The stopover in Ireland is the third time the president used an overseas trip to visit one of the properties which he continues to own despite moving into politics.

He previously did a house inspection at his Waikiki hotel in Hawaii on the way to Asia in 2017 and he stayed in Turnberry golf resort in Scotland last summer.

The 'Boston Globe' observed: "For the backdrop to his first official visit to Ireland, President Trump wanted to promote his golf course on the nation's rocky west coast. The Irish Government countered with the grand staging of an ancient castle.

"In the end, neither side got what they wanted. The compromise location for Trump's meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar was the VIP lounge at Shannon Airport, just down the hallway from the food court and duty-free shop."

It was indeed a pretty shoddy set-up for the bilateral meeting with the world's most powerful man - but then again no significant decisions were going to be taken. Not a cross word was spoken either.

If Trump spotted the small group of protesters while flying into Shannon, that image would have been quickly eclipsed by the sight of a traditional ceili in Doonbeg.

The small village gave him the sort of welcome he craves. Even the president's so-called 'enemies' at CNN seemed to enjoy the 'craic' as Donald Jnr and Eric went on a pub crawl.

"The European adventures of President Donald Trump's adult sons are now complete. Meeting the queen: check. Pulling pints of Guinness in the Irish countryside: check," CNN's website reported.

They added that the two men "enjoyed the welcome of long-lost friends in the little Irish village".

In return, the people of west Clare, who have shown it is possible to separate the man from his politics, ask that he continues to invest in the region.

Trump got what he wanted out of Ireland: Two nights B&B and lots of publicity for his hotel. So why shouldn't Doonbeg get to have a party and ensure he keeps investing.

The president is arguably of more use to them than the rest of the island he hasn't a clue about.

Irish Independent

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