News & Media

Share

TAOISEACH HAS FAILED TO REFLECT IRISH VALUES ON ST.PATRICK'S DAY TRIP

16 March 2017

Statement by Brendan Howlin TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Northern Ireland

“The St. Patrick’s Day celebrations around the world are celebrations of the success of emigration. Around St. Patrick’s Day, we recall people leaving a land - sometimes of hunger, sometimes of oppression - to find a better future.

“When Enda Kenny accepted an invitation to visit President Trump in the White House, I was concerned. Concerned that President Trump would not listen to Irish concerns. Concerned too that our Taoiseach would fail to even articulate those concerns.

“My fear was that our Taoiseach would present Ireland as a supine supporter of Trumpism. By failing to articulate any opposition to the policies and rhetoric of the Trump presidency, Enda Kenny has done exactly that.

“Over the last 24 hours, he has met with Vice President Pence at least twice. It would appear that he has failed to even mention Ireland’s proud record of delivering LGBT rights when face-to-face with a man who believes that gay men need ‘treatment’.

“Faced with the opportunity to raise the concerns of the Irish people with President Trump, our Taoiseach instead chose the path of least resistance. He wore the shamrock and the green tie, he smiled for the cameras, and he kept alive a tradition of White House celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day. But in almost every other respect, he failed to reflect Irish values.

“Nowhere in this engagement has Enda Kenny sought to challenge the racist travel ban that President Trump has twice attempted to implement. Nowhere did he mention the importance of a free press or the value of a diverse society. He did not speak of social solidarity, nor of equality between peoples.

“Worse, he issued an invitation to President Trump to visit Ireland. Trump’s values are not our values, and there should be no welcome mat laid out for a man of his world-view.

“For decades, Irish Governments have been able to enjoy significant access to senior US politicians in the days around St. Patrick’s Day. This has allowed us to raise issues that matter to Ireland, just as our Taoiseach raised the plight of the Irish undocumented in the US today.

“That access is valuable, but it is not the only thing of value. Ireland is an open and tolerant nation. At the very least, we might have expected our Taoiseach to express such a sentiment to President Trump. But even this he could not bring himself to do.”