Should Ireland be welcoming President Donald Trump with open arms considering it has the closest relationship with the United States of any country in the European Union.
The numbers signing up for mass demonstrations to protest the visit of President Donald Trump to Ireland in November appear to be growing literally by the minute. But the Irish public has been warned that a hostile reception to the American president could backfire and have serious repercussions on future Irish-American relations.
Instead of organizing anti-Trump protests, Ireland should be welcoming the president "with open arms" in a bid to replace the U.K. "as the European country with the strongest relationship with the U.S." That's according to the U.K. Independent, which has predicted that Ireland is poised to become Trump's closest ally in the EU after Brexit.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar called for Trump's Ireland visit to be respected, while acknowledging, "I know a lot of people dislike him."
Varadkar also told RTE, “The relationship between Ireland and the U.S. is so strong and so important, much more important than any Irish government or any U.S. administration. I think we have to treat his office with the respect it deserves.”
The taoiseach admitted that the Irish government found out about the Trump plans only days before the announcement.
The trip is “a little bit out of the blue,” he said. “We did not know until a few days ago that he was going to take the opportunity of the Armistice visit in Paris to visit Dublin and he is also going to go to Doonbeg.” Varadkar’s calls to treat the Trump visit respectfully are unlikely to change the minds of the hundreds of thousands who have already signed up to stage a mass demonstration during his visit to Dublin and Doonbeg, Co. Clare, where he owns a golf resort.
On Friday the White House announced that Trump would visit Ireland for two days, either before or after November 11 when he is due in France to mark the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. He will spend the first day in Dublin, where he will meet Varadkar, before going to his golf resort in Doonbeg. “While in Europe, the president also will visit Ireland to renew the deep and historic ties between our two nations,” a White House statement said.
Among the Irish protesters are two cabinet ministers, Finian McGrath and John Halligan, while Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin has also publicly opposed the visit. Howlin said, "Ireland is an open and tolerant nation, committed to peace and democracy. Trump's values are not our values, and there should be no welcome for this man. "We must send a clear signal around the world that dangerous politicians will be opposed by all democratic means, including by peaceful protest."
He added, "Labor will actively oppose this visit, working with like-minded people. I would ask people to recall the protests in 2003 against the Iraq war, where over 100,000 people marched in opposition. Now is another time where people from all walks of life need to raise their voices together."
The Green Party has organized a Say Nope to the Dope protest for Dublin on November 10. Party leader Eamon Ryan said, “Donald Trump’s administration champions policies that are destroying our planet and destabilizing international order.”
Meanwhile, on Monday the U.K. Independent argued that close U.S.-Irish relations are vital to restore political stability to Northern Ireland. Senator George Mitchell, the first U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland in 1995, played a huge role in mediating between the opposing factions in the civil conflict, leading to the historic breakthrough of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. But two decades on, the outlook for the North is both unstable and grim, with the future of the Good Friday Agreement looking increasingly in doubt.
The Independent noted, "The U.S. special envoy to Northern Ireland remains unfilled under Donald Trump's presidency. The economic fallout from Brexit, the threat of a hard border between the south and the north of Ireland, and the absence of government in Stormont over political differences threaten the longevity of the Good Friday Agreement.
"Close relations between the Irish and American governments will enable Taoiseach Varadkar to discuss the seriousness of the situation in Northern Ireland and put pressure on President Trump to fill the position." A close relationship between the two nations is also seen as vital for Ireland's post-Brexit economy, with an estimated 400,000 jobs likely to be lost once Britain leaves the EU.
However, closer ties with the U.S. would make Ireland a more attractive option for investment and as an EU base for American companies. The publication also makes the case that closer ties between the two countries would help Ireland's bid to win a two-year UN Security Council seat, starting in 2021.
Ireland is competing against Canada and Norway, but the Independent notes, "Support from the U.S. will be important if Ireland is to win the seat and play a pivotal role in UN decision-making on international peace, security and development." The publication adds, "President Donald Trump is a highly controversial figure and will generate division wherever he goes. However, his administration is essential in order to secure and prosper Irish-U.S. relations in the coming years. His visit should be welcomed and respected." Not everyone plans on protesting Trump’s visit to Ireland. Publican Tommy Tubridy in Doonbeg says he’ll be happy to welcome the president.
He told the Irish Sunday Mirror, “Sure we’re only delighted to hear he’s coming. We’re a small population of 800 and yes, there will be a huge influx of people but it’s good for the village and great for tourism.”