A leading Donald Trump Irish American supporter believes the Irish should show more love towards the president.
Florida-based Brian Burns, the Irish American businessman and philanthropist, was Trump’s first choice for US Ambassador to Ireland before declining for health reasons.
He was interviewed by Caitríona Perry, a leading Irish journalist who covered Trump in the campaign and the White House for Irish national television and her book "The Tribe: The Inside Story of Irish Power and Influence in US Politics."
Burns argues that Trump wants the best for Ireland, something that is not appreciated by many Irish there and refers to “terrible articles” written about Trump in the Irish media.
Burns says that Trump is misunderstood by many in Ireland and that he has an affection for the country that is as great as that of Clinton or Kennedy or Reagan. He says he doesn’t deserve the animosity with which he’s treated.
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“He hasn’t done anything to Ireland! Ireland’s great,” he says, “and they ought to accept this guy.”
He says that, while there is no Irish-American voting bloc, there should be one focused on Ireland: “In a nice, confident, quiet but very purposeful way to say we want the interests of our homeland to be considered and given some priority.
“I feel very strongly that President Trump has that feeling. He loves Ireland. He looks, as do I, at the terrible articles that are written about him in the Irish papers. Your press is even tougher than the United States.’ And sometimes I wonder why don’t they give this new president a chance and let him go to work?
“He’s the first president that owns lots of land and has some hopes and dreams for Ireland, and you find him a really great friend of Ireland. But, sometimes, perhaps Ireland could reach its hand out too.”
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Burns feels this is a dangerous game for Ireland to play. He says the relationship between Ireland and the US now, with Trump in the Oval Office and potentially set to be there until January 2024, needs work. ‘It could be a hell of a lot better, and it should be.’”
Burns says this is the case. On immigration: “I have high hopes that President Trump and the Congress may start to loosen the bonds which have really kept Irish immigration way, way down.
“For the business world, I think Ireland is an ideal place. It’s an entrance to the European market, it has a beautifully educated student body, and the people of Ireland are still the warmest and most gracious and welcoming of any place that I’ve been in my life.”
“It would be nice if Ireland looked at President Trump and opted to think, ‘My God, he owns property in Ireland. His son Eric and his wife, Lara, spend a lot of their time here.’ He has every warm motivation to Ireland.”
Meanwhile, Irish Ambassador to the US Dan Mulhall says that in his dealings, the president is “always perfectly positive and pleasant.
“He always says the right things about Ireland. He’s positive about the immigration issue. He wants to be helpful on that. He understands the importance of the peace process. While he may be partial to Brexit, for other reasons, he, I think, is careful not to want to do anything or say anything that would compromise peace in Ireland,” says the Ambassador.
“Also, he has never said anything negative about us, as such, that I’m aware of – given that he has a tendency to shoot from the hip. We haven’t attracted any negative attention from him over the last two years, which is a good thing. It shows that there’s a generally positive attitude towards us within the administration.”