Monday 23 September 2019

Boycott of US is not on, but we must speak out

US President Donald Trump. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP
US President Donald Trump. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP


Many of us must deal with people we dislike and disagree with in both our professional and even our personal lives. We could be seriously hampered if we only dealt with those we liked and approved of.

The practice of international relations is not vastly different in this regard. World realpolitik dictates that we must make terms with leaders and regimes of which we disapprove and with which we disagree.

On that basis calls for the Taoiseach and Irish Government to "shun" the new US President Donald Trump are not very realistic. These calls ignore that, whatever you think of Mr Trump, he is now the democratically elected leader of that great country.

The calls, coming from both the Labour and Green Party leadership, also ignore the millions of US citizens who acknowledge their Irishness and retain a great affection for Ireland. That truly human US-Irish link was there long before Mr Trump took to politics, and it will be there long after he has departed the scene.

The presentation of shamrock at St Patrick's Day in the White House, and the associated events, represent huge access for Ireland to Washington's key decision makers. This is a valuable asset not shared by many other small nations and we should keep it.

But that does not mean we should not speak our minds, especially on issues of justice and human rights. Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan yesterday spoke out about how Ireland shared EU concerns on Mr Trump's immigration changes. This was a welcome move and we must see more such statements when the occasion requires.

After all, Ireland has worked for decades with other nations to promote human rights.

Irish Independent

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