Saturday 20 July 2019

Ireland manages to survive Trump encounter with its dignity still intact

Our view - Editorial Comment

To be fair to the Government and the civil service, they managed to pull off quite the balancing act last week as they dealt with Donald Trump's flying visit to his Clare golf resort.

One imagines that for most world leaders finding out that President Trump is planning a visit is akin to receiving a unwanted wedding invite from an unpleasant colleague.

Sure, it's nice that they thought of you but you're less than keen on giving up your weekend - and handing over a fist-full of cash - to spend time with them outside work.

Still, for the sake of appearances - and office politics - you take the financial hit; dust off your best suit; head for the ceremony and just hope there are no unsavoury scenes.

That's just what Leo Varadkar and his Government did last week and, all credit to them, they managed to steer the country - and its reputation - though President Trump's potentially awkward visit in relatively painless fashion.

The Trump family's visit was handled in a mature, responsible and civil manner that showed suitable respect for the office of the President of the United States. Unlike previous Presidential visits, there was no forelock tugging and doffing of caps.

Aside from the Trump children's Doonbeg pub crawl, we were also largely spared the usual paddywhackery - like the typical images of a grovelling minister awkwardly forcing a hurley into the hand's of a world leader - that normally accompany such visits.

Instead President Trump was greeted in a pleasant and polite but professional manner. His office and status were treated with the respect they warrant and he was let go about his business in Clare.

He seems to have left Ireland with a positive view of our influential little nation.

Given his notorious stance on immigrants - and the precarious situation of thousands of undocumented Irish in the US - and opposition to US firms investing overseas, can that be a bad thing?

There has also been massive criticism of the cost of keeping President Trump safe during his visit.

Yes, the operation will have cost millions but would Ireland really want to go down in history as the first foreign nation that failed to prevent an assassination attempt on a US President?

Meanwhile, there has also been an enormous amount of opprobrium directed at the people of Doonbeg who opened their doors to President Trump and his family.

Love him or hate him, surely any reasonable person can accept that President Trump's resort has done untold good for the area.

Across the country Irish towns and villages are dying. Scores of locals in Doonbeg told the international press that without Trump's resort their village would be a ghost town, its community torn asunder by unemployment and emigration. Is it any wonder they would welcome their benefactor with open arms?

Many of them argued he has done more for their area than their own Government. You may not agree but you have to accept they have a point.

If their father's business had helped keep your loved ones in Ireland you might just have a pint with Eric Don Jnr too.

Enniscorthy Guardian