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smiles and shamrocks

Calls for Enda Kenny to cancel White House trip over Trump's refugee ban

The Green Party says Trump’s actions are “intolerable”, while Charlie Flanagan says the ban “concerns” him.

Updated 8pm / YouTube

THERE HAVE BEEN calls for Taoiseach Enda Kenny to cancel his upcoming visit to the White House to mark St Patrick’s Day.

The issue has been raised on numerous occasions since Donald Trump was elected US President, but gained momentum this weekend following Trump’s attempt to stop refugees entering the US.

Today, the Greens called on Kenny to postpone the visit. Party leader Eamon Ryan said: “We have to stand up for what is right. The banning of refugees, the support for torture and the bullying of the Mexican government is simply intolerable.

We respect the US political system and value our historic connections but we cannot in all honesty hand over that bowl of shamrock in these circumstances.

“It is time for our Taoiseach to represent our country and what we stand for in the world. We should do so in a civil and diplomatic manner but proceeding as if everything is normal is not an option.”

Meanwhile, Labour leader Brendan Howlin said: ”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, and to Irish people in the US.

That access is valuable, but it is not the only thing of value. Ireland is an open and tolerant nation. We believe that those who are experiencing violence and oppression in their home nations should be welcomed to nations that can provide them with safety and security and opportunity.

A spokesperson from the Taoiseach’s Department told ”In order to maintain the historically strong links between the Irish and American peoples it is important that the Taoiseach continues to engage with the US President and his administration in Washington around the events of St Patrick’s Day.

Doing so allows the Taoiseach to outline, in person, his government’s views on a range of issues, including business and economic ties, immigration and other matters of common interest. He will continue to act in the interests of Irish people and to that end he will raise these matters again this year.

However, Howlin added: “President Trump does not share our values. Indeed, he is openly hostile to them. He and his team have made clear that he is unwilling to hear, or even listen to discordant voices. In that context, the only thing a visit by the Taoiseach to the White House could achieve would be to present Ireland as a supine supporter of Trumpism.

Such a presentation would be humiliating to the vast majority of Irish people who stand opposed to the policies being implemented by President Trump.

“Put plainly, if the Muslim ban remains in place, Enda Kenny should not be boarding a plane to Washington in March. And our government should be working might and mane to make sure that these policies are not enforced on Irish soil.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar said it’s important for Ireland to “engage with the new administration”.

However, given the current political environment, he said the annual tradition “can’t just be smiles and shamrocks”.

At the time of publication, over 24,000 people had signed a petition calling on Kenny to cancel the visit. It is one of a number of online petitions on the issue.

Refugee ban

On Friday, Trump signed an executive order barring all refugees from entering the US for three months. Those from war-ravaged Syria were set to be banned from entering the country indefinitely.

Trump said the ban was necessary to prevent “radical Islamic terrorists” from entering the nation. The ban affects people from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

It led to people en route to the US being detained at airports, sparking several protests. Last night, a federal judge issued an emergency order temporarily barring the US from deporting people, saying travellers who had been detained had a strong argument their legal rights had been violated.

Some people are still being detained, with a lack of clarity about what will happen next.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan issued a statement about the issue today, saying: “While US immigration policy is a matter for the US authorities, it is clear that the most recent decisions could have far-reaching implications – both on humanitarian grounds and on relations between the US and the global Muslim community.

“Accordingly, I share the concerns of other EU partners regarding this most recent development.

Many people are feeling great concern about these changes including some Irish citizens in the United States. Our embassy in Washington and consulates remain in active and ongoing contact with Irish immigration centres throughout the US. I am conscious that matters are still evolving and that the US courts are now involved. We will continue to monitor developments in this area very closely.

“Ireland has a vibrant multinational community which contribute a great deal to our country.”

Speaking about Trump’s executive order, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said: “This arbitrary ban and the refusal to offer sanctuary to refugees runs counter to international obligations, equality and decency. Generations of Irish fled starvation, poverty and conflict to make a new life and contribute to building America.

I congratulate the protesters at the airports last night and welcome the temporary stay on this unjust policy. I believe that the Irish government should not allow Irish airports to enforce this fundamentally unjust order.

In a statement from Anti-Austerity Alliance, Ruth Coppinger said: “Donald Trump’s executive order barring travel for those from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Syria is an openly racist act. It is targeted at Muslims predominantly, who have been consistently scapegoated and targeted by Trump.

It is heartening to see the scenes of thousands of people protest at airports at America, demanding that people are allowed in and in opposition to these policies. Last summer, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Trump was racist and dangerous. This executive order now means the government has to decide which side it’s on.

“Will it show solidarity with Muslims who are the targets of this immigration policy or will it turn a blind eye and allow US pre-clearance to carry out racist discrimination in our airports?”

What do you think: Should Kenny cancel the trip?

Poll Results:

Yes (10120)
No (7186)
I'm not sure (1145)

Contains reporting from AP and Cliódhna Russell

Read: Setback for Trump as US judge stops deportations under refugee ban

Read: Refugees detained at airports after Trump bans them from entering US

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