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Editorial: 'Doonbeg or dromoland? let's be diplomatic about it'


The Doonbeg golf course and hotel in Co Clare. Photo: PA

The Doonbeg golf course and hotel in Co Clare. Photo: PA

The Doonbeg golf course and hotel in Co Clare. Photo: PA

The apparent stand-off the Taoiseach finds himself in with Donald Trump - the most divisive man in the world - is a little awkward.

Not long ago Leo Varadkar was eager to curry favour with America's president. So eager, he bragged to an embarrassed audience in Washington how he had personally intervened with Clare County Council to make sure a windfarm Trump was opposing would not be built near the billionaire's golf resort.

He would later correct the record; it was actually Bord Fáilte whom he had approached.

But now Mr Varadkar finds himself stuck in something of a diplomatic bunker.

Far from associating himself with the Trump resort, he is trying to keep as far away from it as possible. And so a spat appears to have developed across the Atlantic as to whether a meeting between Mr Trump and the Taoiseach should be held at either Doonbeg or Dromoland Castle. A first world problem, if ever there was one.

Of course there is something a little odd about a Taoiseach meeting a US president on the billionaire's own private turf.

Mr Trump ceded control of The Trump Organisation to his adult sons in 2017, but notably refused to divest his assets. This decision understandably provoked a furious backlash. But just about everything concerning the 45th president of America does.

Mr Varadkar knew this when he asked him to be a guest in our country.

He may be "controversial" figure and very many may disagree with very much of what he says or does. However, getting tangled up in protocol seems petty, bordering on the petulant.

Shunting the massive US security entourage 50km down the road to decamp to another venue may prove problematic.

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One of the responsibilities of statecraft is to keep channels of communication open at all times, not close them down.

As we have pointed out before some 155,000 Irish people are directly employed in US firms here. As one of Mr Trump's most bitter adversaries Hillary Clinton observed, a good part of diplomacy is to open different definitions of self-interest.

With Brexit closing in and a trade war looming, what definition of self-interest deems it wise to tangle with Mr Trump? The ties between the US and Ireland are stronger than a single administration.

America will be there long after Mr Trump, but as its representative every reasonable accommodation should be entertained.

Any sense of a snub whether imagined or real is a faux pas. It ought to have been possible to settle the disagreement without risking an international incident. Joseph Stalin felt sincere diplomacy is no more possible than dry water or wooden iron.

But the art of quiet persuasion is invariably more effective than public posturing.

Bringing people together with difficult issues in the air should be regarded as an opportunity.

True ambassadors appreciate the value of thinking twice before saying nothing.

Silence can sometimes be the most eloquent envoy of all.

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