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Dublin: 11 °C Thursday 4 June, 2020
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Pressure on Enda Kenny to speak out against Trump travel ban during shamrock ceremony

It’s not going to be all green ties and shamrocks today at the White House.

Image: Niall Carson

Christina Finn reporting from the White House

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY will visit the White House today to present the traditional bowl of shamrock to US President Donald Trump.

Trump’s revised travel ban – which Kenny had been asked if he would raise with the president – was due to come into effect today. But last night saw the ban being halted by a federal court in Hawaii over fears it would cause “irreparable injury” if it went ahead.

The US President signed a revised executive order last week banning entry visas from six Muslim-majority countries: Libya, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Last week, TheJournal.ie asked Kenny if he would raise it as a matter of concern when he met the president. He replied:

Obviously I will speak to both the president and vice president about that when I am there next week.

Ever since the Taoiseach announced that he would be continuing with tradition and travelling to the White House this year, there have been calls for him to cancel his trip.

However, a spokesperson for the Taoiseach said the meeting will give Kenny the chance 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”.

The statement continued to say the Taoiseach will “continue to act in the interests of Irish people and to that end he will raise these matters again this year”.

Last night, Kenny was asked again about his denials around calling POTUS a racist. Once again, he said that his comment “was in respect of his language”.

At last night’s Irish Funds Gala, Vice-President of the US, Mike Pence, spoke about his Irish heritage.

Also at the event, Senator George Mitchell spoke about Ireland and immigration to the USA.

He said there must be “realistic limits” on immigration, but policies must be developed to help the US live up to its principles as a just, open and welcoming society.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Kenny’s visit today has been criticised in some quarters. Labour leader Brendan Howlin has said that “the only thing a visit by the Taoiseach to the White House could achieve would be to present Ireland as a supine supporter for Donald Trump”.

Solidarity-PBP TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the travel ban for citizens of Muslim countries is “pure unadulterated racism” and must be condemned.

Meanwhile, former Governor Martin O’Malley will deliver a petition of 39,000 signatures to Enda Kenny in Washington DC today, ahead of Kenny’s White House visit.

The petition, titled ‘Shamrock for Trump: Not in my name’, calls on Kenny to be aware that “if he does decide to travel to meet President Trump on St Patrick’s Day, that he is not travelling in my name”.

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Irish-US relations

Kenny’s morning today will begin with an early breakfast at the residence of Vice-President Mike Pence. He will then attend a bilateral meeting with President Trump and events hosted by Vice-President Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

It’s understood the Taoiseach will use each of these opportunities to emphasise the strength of Irish-US relations and Ireland’s Brexit priorities. The Taoiseach is expected to again advocate for immigration reform to assist the many thousands of undocumented Irish in the US.

Kenny will also highlight Ireland’s commitment to EU membership, “emphasising the importance of the EU’s core values of human dignity, freedom, democracy and equality”.

The Taoiseach travels to New York tomorrow where he will participate in the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

He will then speak at ‘Ireland Day,’ a major event to promote Ireland, hosted by Michael Bloomberg in Bloomberg Headquarters.

He will also meet with Enterprise Ireland and IDA client companies, community and business representatives and attend the Tourism Ireland Greening of One World Trade Center before departing for Ireland later that evening.

TheJournal.ie’s political reporter Christina Finn will be bringing you all the latest updates from Enda Kenny’s visit to Washington this week, including his meeting with US President Donald Trump today.

Stay up-to-date by following @ChristinaFinn8@TJ_Politics  and TheJournal.ie’s Facebook page

Read: When is racist language racist? Enda Kenny facing big questions in the US>

Read: Taoiseach says he will raise the new travel ban with Trump when he visits the White House>

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