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Coveney missing Trump visit as he has 'real work to do' in Belfast

The Tánaiste agreed that Trump’s views on climate change were “regressive”.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley, April.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley, April.
Image: Brian Lawless via PA Images

TÁNAISTE SIMON COVENEY has said he will not be meeting US president Donald Trump on his Irish visit as he has “real work to do” in Belfast.

“While a lot of the media focus will be on Shannon and Clare, I’ll be in Belfast. We have real work to do with the parties up there,” Coveney told Morning Ireland.

The Minister for Foreign affairs will be taking part in a five-party discussion in Stormont alongside Northern Secretary Karen Bradley in an effort to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland. “We want to get this job done,” he said

Coveney said he believes that there is a genuine but narrow window of opportunity to reach an agreement and that it is essential to continue talks. 

‘Regressive and pernicious’

Speaking at the European Federation of Public Service Unions Annual Congress at the RDS yesterday, President Michael D Higgins said that the decision from Donald Trump to pull the US out of the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change was “regressive and pernicious”.

“While the EU has a set of binding emissions targets for 2020 and 2030, we must now plan for full decarbonisation of our European economies by 2050, encouraging the rest of the world to follow suit, and urging in the strongest possible terms the USA to re-consider its regressive and pernicious decision to leave the global Paris Agreement,” Higgins said.

When it came to Trump’s views on climate change, Coveney said he thought that regressive was “a better adjective” adding that President Higgins got the mood of Irish people “quite well”. 

“I think many people were dismayed when they saw a fundamental change of direction from the US, with the change of administration, when it comes to climate change.

The world needs to move forward together. Everyone wants the US to be a leader in many areas including climate change and unfortunately, the fact that the US president doesn’t believe in climate change and the need for a collective response globally is something that many people have been hugely frustrated and disappointed by.

Trump’s itinerary for his private Irish visit will be much less busy and will not involve the pomp and circumstance of the official State visit to England. He will, however, be meeting Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for bilateral talks. 

According to Coveney, these talks will focus mainly on the impact that Brexit will have on Ireland.

“It’s no secret that we don’t agree with president Trump’s views on Brexit,” he said. 

Despite these opposing views, Coveney is hopeful that the Trump administration will be supportive of the Irish peace process and the Good Friday Agreement, as other US administrations have been. 

“The relationship between Ireland and the US remains strong even though we disagree on many policy areas with the current administration, that’s no secret.

“But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be talking about those differences, I think the vast majority of Irish people recognise that. Given the extraordinary access that we have to the White House, we should be facilitating a full visit of a US president when he decides to come here,” Coveney said. 

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Adam Daly

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