In the run-up to the United State Presidential Election 2016, Taoiseach (Ireland's Prime Minister) Enda Kenny accused the Republican nominee Donald Trump of racism on the floor of the Irish parliament (the Dail). He now says he doesn’t regret it, despite being one of the first global leaders to speak with the President-elect following his victory.
Until the end of May of last year, Kenny had taken a largely conciliatory approach to Trump’s controversial campaign and divisive remarks, telling RTE that Trump had made “provocative remarks,” but that some of them had been “rowed back on.”
However, on May 31, when pressed by Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin and Anti-Austerity People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett during a Dáil (Irish parliament) session about the Irish government’s intentions should Trump be elected president, Kenny took a harder stance.
“Mr. Trump has talked about wiping people out across the Middle East and massively escalating US military action in that region,” Boyd Barrett said.
“Whatever about the previous differences between the Taoiseach and I on this issue, is he seriously going to tell the House that if Donald Trump was President of the United States, the Taoiseach would carry on with the policy of facilitating the US military at Shannon Airport?
“If the Taoiseach did that, it would beggar belief because everybody recognizes what a dangerous man Donald Trump is.”
Kenny initially declined to comment, calling the topic of the next US president a “matter for the American people.”
Eventually, he concluded, “If Trump’s comments are racist and dangerous, which they are, there is an alternative to vote for.”
Asked now if he regrets those remarks, Kenny said he did not.
"I don't. I made my comment in the Dáil on comments that had been made by the then candidate," he said, according to BreakingNews.ie
"I've since spoken to the President-Elect and we've agreed Ireland will continue to work with the in-coming administration in the interests of Ireland and the United States," he added.
Indeed, despite his past words on Trump, Kenny left some other European leaders green with envy when he became the first to speak with Donald Trump following his election win.
During the ten minute call with Kenny, Trump praised the decisions taken by Kenny's government on the Irish economy and confirmed that the US would continue to work with Ireland and would continue the St. Patrick’s Day tradition of inviting the Taoiseach to the White House.
“I had a very good conversation with the president-elect,” Kenny said at the time.
“He understands Ireland very well. He was complimentary about the decisions made about the economy here. He is looking forward to doing business with Ireland and I asked him specifically about Patrick’s Day, he is looking forward to continuing that tradition over many years.”