THERE has been a lot of debate as to whether Taoiseach Enda Kenny should go ahead with his traditional St Patrick’s Day visit to the White House and present the now obligatory bowl of shamrock to the new President of the United States of America, Donald J Trump, in the light of his controversial travel ban on refugees to the US for at least 120 days and the stopping of visas being issued for travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for the next three months. The new President’s executive order has been challenged in the courts – which he views with disdain – and there have been public protests about these bans in the US and many other countries, including Ireland.
Here, the Labour Party, People Before Profit and the Green Party have called on the Taoiseach not to go ahead with the visit to the White House in protest at what President Trump stands for, however a spokesperson for the Taoiseach said that he needs to outline, in person, the Irish government’s views on a range of issues, including business and economic ties, immigration and other matters of common interest. In order to make the best use of this face-to-face opportunity, he must not pull any punches and needs to let Trump know in no uncertain terms our well-founded fears about his populist policies; as Minister Leo Varadkar said, ‘it cannot be just about smiles and shamrocks.’
No matter how many Taoiseachs have tried to portray Ireland as the apple of America’s eye over the years, the fact is that illegal Irish immigrants will not get more favourable treatment than those from other countries. Hopefully, next month’s visit won’t provoke a fit of pique on Trump’s part to round them all up and deport them.