Opinion

Saturday 21 July 2018

Eilis O'Hanlon: Taoiseach's job on St Patrick's Day is to serve Ireland Inc

Leo Varadkar made some gaffes in Washington, but it was still the right call to take a softer approach to President Trump, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

White House welcome: Leo Varadkar with President Trump and his wife Melania. The Taoiseach was in a tricky position but he made the right call by prioritising trade talks. Photo: AP
White House welcome: Leo Varadkar with President Trump and his wife Melania. The Taoiseach was in a tricky position but he made the right call by prioritising trade talks. Photo: AP

Eilis O'Hanlon

Donald Trump is president of the United States. That might seem an obvious remark, but it's becoming increasingly bizarre how hard that simple fact seems to be for some people to accept. In Ireland, it manifested itself this week in a passionate conviction that the Taoiseach should have snubbed the annual St Patrick's Day visit to the White House as a message of Irish disapproval to the property developer and former reality TV star, for his alleged racism/misogyny/climate change denial (delete as appropriate).

Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Ruth Coppinger was banging that drum on last Thursday morning's Today With Sean O'Rourke. She was ably rebutted by Seth Barrett Tillman, the US-born law lecturer from Maynooth, who pointed out the breathtaking arrogance of believing that one should go to a friendly, democratic country and start telling its people how they should live and think.

That certainly didn't go down too well when former UKIP leader Nigel Farage came to Dublin recently to address a small conference in favour of Ireland leaving the EU. One would have imagined from some of the reaction that it was the Elizabethan conquest all over again, as Nigel was ordered in no uncertain terms to go back to where he came from and never darken our door again.

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