An Irish politician is warning the country’s rugby team to rethink their stay in Donald Trump’s Chicago hotel ahead of their upcoming game against New Zealand.
On November 5, just three days before the US public goes to the polls, the Irish rugby team will face off against the All Blacks in Soldiers Field, the home of the Chicago Bears. As the team prepares for what is sure to be a difficult game against the rugby world champions, they will stay in the Trump International Hotel and Tower, owned, of course, by the controversial GOP Presidential candidate.
The stay has been criticized, however, by People Before Profit TD Brid Smith, who believes any association between the rugby team and the real-estate mogul turned politician will send the wrong message to Irish voting in the US. The Irish political party People Before Profit were among those organizing protests in June when Trump declared he was to visit his golf course in Doonbeg, Co. Clare. The trip was later canceled.
“The rugby team should definitely rethink that decision because there is a very large Irish population in the States and it could prejudice people’s view of Trump,” Smith, a representative for Dublin South-Central, told the Irish Sun.
“It could change how people feel about his role in America and his sexist and racist stance on many issues.
“Trump could certainly make use of the team to appeal to Irish voters,” the political activist continued.
The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) have argued that the hotel was chosen in January 2016, however, months before Trump became the official Republican candidate. The Trump hotel was chosen, they say, simply because of the facilities needed by the team. With only three five-star hotels in Chicago and the city also hosting a large packaging expo the same weekend as the Ireland-New Zealand clash, the Irish team was left with few options.
“The accommodation requirements of the team are purely based on the facilities that are available and if they match the requirements, that’s simply it,” said a statement from the IRFU.
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Although the billionaire was not yet an official candidate and the primary voting season had not yet begun when the hotel was booked for the Irish team, Trump had already courted controversy by the proposal to build a wall along the Mexican border, by claiming that Muslims should be banned from entering the US, and with incredulous comments about Fox News host Megyn Kelly.
“There was a limited choice of hotels available because of a packaging conference in Chicago that same week,” an IRFU spokesman told the Irish Times.
“This hotel has the capacity to house the team, providing the number bedrooms and team rooms we require. That’s it.”
Regardless of the actions of its owner, the Trump Hotel in Chicago has previously shown exactly why it earned it a five-star rating, accommodating strange requests from their customers and even doing their best to make Hillary Clinton supporters feel at home.
Earlier this month, 29-year old Jon Lorenzini spent three nights in the hotel while on a business trip, and hoping to check out how far its staff would go in the name of excellent customer service, he asked for a photo of a very special person to be placed by his bedside: Hillary Clinton.
Living up to its reputation, a photo of the Democratic candidate awaited him when he first entered the room with Lorenzini telling Reddit users “I hate to admit how much I like it” when talking about his stay in the Chicago hotel.
Trump International Hotel in Chicago offers rooms for as much as $1,444 although special packages can be acquired for traveling Irish fans which will include tickets to the match as well as accommodation in this, the official Irish hotel for the weekend. In association with the IRFU, Irish rugby fans can purchase packages from The Hospitality Partnership Ltd worth $3,700 (€3.400) which include a match ticket, a four-night stay in Trump Tower (the official team hotel), canapés and an appearance by an Irish rugby player. Other packages including accommodation in the alternate Regent Hotel are available for $550 (€500) less.
Tickets for the Irish game in Chicago are not yet sold out and are available for between $36 and $270. The following Ireland-New Zealand game in Dublin on November 19 is already sold out.
Do you think the Irish team should stay in a more neutral hotel during their Chicago stay or does Brid Smith over exaggerate any influence this could have on Irish voters? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, below.