| 8.5°C Dublin

Trump goes abroad - and the world holds its breath

Close

President Donald Trump talks with Saudi King Salman as they pose for photos with leaders at the Arab Islamic American Summit, at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photo: AP

President Donald Trump talks with Saudi King Salman as they pose for photos with leaders at the Arab Islamic American Summit, at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photo: AP

President Donald Trump talks with Saudi King Salman as they pose for photos with leaders at the Arab Islamic American Summit, at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photo: AP

Embattled on several fronts at home, US President Donald Trump has undertaken his first overseas trip amid much trepidation across the western world. He will visit the Middle East and America's traditional allies in Europe.

The new president has compounded this international anxiety by picking a small back-up team of inexperienced diplomats to advise him. As he meets key leaders from Muslim states, it is to be hoped there is not too much emphasis on some of Mr Trump's election campaign comments about Islam. But with such low expectations, it is also to be hoped that Mr Trump can surprise and avoid calamity. Ostensibly, his mission is to stimulate a semblance of unity in the battle against Isil terrorism.

Mr Trump told governments they need to do more to stamp out religious intolerance and extremism. In an ideal world, it may lead to a lessening of funds available to Isil to promulgate global murder, terror and outrage.

But the real hope is that Mr Trump does not inflame by the ill-judged bluntness which is his political calling card. This is a very sensitive errand and diplomatic errors here can cost lives.

After yesterday's address in Saudi Arabia, Mr Trump today moves to Israel and tomorrow is due to visit the West Bank. The pressure decreases on Wednesday as he is due to meet Pope Francis, while later attending summits of Nato and G7 leaders. All of these carry less immediate risk. But they will also impact on future economic and political relations.

Let's hear some policy ideas, Mr Varadkar

When he initially lost the race for the Fine Gael leadership in February 2001, Enda Kenny joked that his colleagues would never know what they had missed. Ironically, now that it appears most likely that Simon Coveney will lose his leadership bid, we actually have some knowledge of what we may be missing.

Mr Coveney is emerging as a substantive politician with policy ideas. But, so far, the same cannot be said of Leo Varadkar, who is headed to win the Fine Gael leadership and also succeed Enda Kenny as taoiseach.

It is a strange and less-than-encouraging state of affairs. While Mr Varadkar and his exultant colleagues smile and wave, the hard-pressed taxpayer can be forgiven for asking where he or she fits in all this party ballyhoo.

We have heard Mr Varadkar speak generally and rightly about the need to stop taking more than 50pc in various taxes from workers on modest enough incomes. He had also pledged to tackle Ireland's fast approaching pensions crisis.

We also know that our soon-to-be taoiseach inherits severe strictures in a government programme agreed with Independents, and an arrangement with Fianna Fáil underpinning this curious minority Coalition.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

Equally, we are aware that, despite very good news on employment and very hopeful growth projections, all may not be well with the economy. Tax revenue is stuttering a little, Brexit fallout looms, and public service pay demands will increase pressure.

But it is precisely because of all these factors that we need to hear some substantive political discussion by Mr Varadkar. This leadership battle is five days old. Today we hope he can remedy matters when he launches his manifesto.


Most Watched





Privacy