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COMMENT: Trump visit is a diplomatic reality for Leo

Monday, 10th September, 2018 7:59am

Story by Tony McCullagh
COMMENT: Trump visit is a diplomatic reality for Leo


COMMENT: Trump visit is a diplomatic reality for Leo


THE battle to prevent a visit to these shores by US President Donald Trump was lost a long time ago.

It pre-dates his shock election to the most powerful position in the western world in November 2016. In fact, some of our political class treated Trump as a statesman before he was even a candidate.

Who remembers the cringe-inducing scenes when the red carpet was rolled out for the Donald as his private plane landed in Shannon in 2014? In terms of a céad míle fáilte, this was the full Irish, replete with diddley-eye music and a welcoming committee that included a senior Government minister. 

All we were short of were a few leprechauns and comely maidens dancing on the runway with ‘Welcome to the Parish’ banners. It was pretty gruesome stuff.

Back then, of course, Trump was just a mega rich Yank being feted for injecting badly-needed dollars into the West Clare economy with jobs for the local boys and girls at his hotel and golf course in Doonbeg. You’ll be hard pressed to find a bad word said about that man round them parts.

Fast-forward to 2018 and Trump is coming back here in his capacity as boss of America, although he’ll possibly check out his Irish investments while he’s here. Two birds with one stone and all that.

News of his impending visit provoked predictable outrage. We now know a lot more about Trump’s views since the last time he was here: his ill-judged Twitter diplomacy; his comments about women; his racist slurs – the list goes on. But like it or not, he now has a mandate from the American people; he’s their choice of president, not ours.

And we can’t have it both ways. Our Government has continued the tradition of having access to the President of the United States for St Patrick’s Day, greening the White House with their bowls of shamrock and matching ties. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar gave the impression that he was caught on the hop when he learned of Trump’s plan. But there was an open invitation for him to visit this State so it was only a matter of time before he took us up on the offer.

Trump’s visit will be met with protests, of course, which is all part of living in a healthy democratic society. We don’t have to like the man or agree with his opinions. The political reality is, however, that Ireland continues to rely heavily on US investment and influence. The chances of his invitation being revoked by the State are zero; it’s a diplomatic conundrum that can’t be solved. We’ll simply have to live with it.

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