Taoiseach Enda Kenny has denied he’s been snubbed by President-Elect Donald J. Trump; speaking to members of the media at the Irish Consulate in New York - a few short minutes walk from Trump’s 5th Avenue home - the Taoiseach nonchalantly said, “Come on please, this trip was arranged long before the outcome of the election.
“Obviously this is a business trade and investment trip...There are no political meetings on this occasion. I spoke on the day he was announced as President-Elect to President-Elect Trump and I look forward to meeting him in March.”
On the possibility that there could be conflict with the new Administration if US companies continue to relocate due to Ireland’s lower rate of corporate tax Kenny shrugged off the question, “Well in respect of the issue of let’s say corporate tax rates, that’s a matter for the American Administration… As far as we’re concerned we control our own corporate tax rate and we’re very happy with the level of investment in Ireland.”
Perhaps in deference to his proximity to US soil, the Taoiseach was more interested in the possibility of British business relocating to Ireland, cheerfully adding, “a number of the companies I've met in the last few days [regarding] queries about relocation... [are] from Great Britain, we will compete for them in that regard very strongly.”
Regarding the plight of the undocumented Irish in the United States, Kenny was more forthright, telling reporters he already spoken to Trump about his concerns, “Clearly this is a matter of considerable interest to us and... the vast majority of [Irish] people here that we know of are contributing to America’s economy, to America’s society… and abide by the laws of the land. So I think the priority for the President-Elect in his comments was the issue of the border and immigrants with criminal records.”
And as to whether he plans to tackle the President-Elect on his pre-election plan to abolish the J-1 visa - used by hundreds of Irish college students every year to spend a summer working in the US - he said, “I’d hate to see that go. I think the J-1 has been an incredible opportunity and a brilliant example of connecting with different countries and cultures for young people.
“I’d like to think we could work together to develop that for the future because it does set about maintaining links between Europe and America, and Ireland in particular has benefited greatly both ways from young people going to America, and coming back with experience, and indeed Americans coming to Ireland. It keeps that very strong cultural, social and business link. So I do hope that the J-1 is enabled to continue.”
And he gave his full backing to his party colleague, Mairead McGuinness MEP, to becoming the next President of the European Parliament, “she is an outstanding candidate. She’s a professional communicator and if anything has gone wrong in Europe in the past period it’s that explaining what Europe is about to the ordinary citizens.”
Ending the press conference on a positive note, he noted regarding billionaire businessman Wilbur Ross - Trump’s nominee for Commerce Secretary - that, “He invested in Ireland when very few wanted to invest in Ireland, he made a very substantial return on his investments… and I wish him well in his time in office.”