Friday 20 September 2019

Revealed: Coalition has no contingency plan for Trump win

Finance Minister Michael Noonan greets Donald Trump as he arrives at Shannon Airport in 2014. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Finance Minister Michael Noonan greets Donald Trump as he arrives at Shannon Airport in 2014. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Philip Ryan and Niall O'Connor

The Government has no contingency plan in place to deal with the shock outcome of the US presidential election that saw Donald Trump sweep to victory.

Senior officials in the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Foreign Affairs last night confirmed there was no Government strategy drafted in anticipation of the US presidential election result.

Mr Trump's election win over Hillary Clinton sent shockwaves across the world and saw share prices and currency values plummet.

There was public outcry throughout the election campaign over his comments on race, women and immigration.

The billionaire businessman's election manifesto pledged to rid America of illegal immigrants - of which there are 50,000 from Ireland - and lure US businesses based abroad for tax reasons back to the country.

However, Government officials yesterday said they were not concerned about Mr Trump's election to the White House and said Ireland would maintain a good relationship with the US.

A senior source in the Department of the Taoiseach said the Government does not prepare for the "democratic outcome elections in other countries".

"We don't see this in the same way as Brexit and we didn't put a contingency plan in place for the UK general election," the source said.

A Department of Foreign Affairs source said the election was not a "black swan event" and insisted there was no contingency plan needed due to the long-standing relationship Ireland has with the US.

Read more: 'The discourse changed overnight - this is a waking nightmare' - An Irishman in the US

In further sign of the lack of preparation, ministers and their advisers got a text message before 8am, which warned them to refrain from public comment on the outcome.

"Advice at this point is to make no public comment in relation to the outcome of the US presidential election. Language will be circulated Asap in the course of the morning," the text message read.

Sources said they believed the Government was "blindsided" by the result, which ministers believed would go in the favour of Mrs Clinton.

Last night, Fine Gael TD John Deasy, who worked with Republican politicians in the US for seven years, warned that Ireland does not have strong relationship in Washington.

"The problem is over the last 20 years we have lost considerable influence on Capitol Hill across the board, but when it comes to the Republican party in particular we have very little sway," Mr Deasy said.

It is understood Government officials will make contact with Mr Trump's advisers in the coming weeks with the aim of building a strong relationship with the President-elect before he officially takes up office.

Sources have also indicated the St Patrick's Day State visit to the White House is not under threat, and will continue while Mr Trump is in office.

Speaking in the Dáil during leaders' questions, Taoiseach Enda Kenny defended the fact that he described Mr Trump as "racist and dangerous" during the election campaign.

Mr Kenny said he was referring to comments the businessman made in "the heat of battle in a primary election".

In a hard-hitting statement last night, Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin said a "nightmare" has now become a reality.

"A man who has, at every opportunity, sought to demean and belittle whole swathes of his society has become the leader of the largest free nation in the world. That's a sobering reality," Mr Howlin said.

LISTEN: The Floating Voter Podcast from New York - We're all in the Trump Frat House now

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