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Taoiseach Goes Stateside: 'If Enda does meet Trump, he shouldn't go cap in hand'

The Taoiseach is off to the US today and there’s some speculation there’s work going on behind the scenes to arrange a meet-up with Donald Trump.

Enda Kenny and Donald Trump
Enda Kenny and Donald Trump
Image: Thejournal/Press Association

THE TAOISEACH IS setting off on a three-day business trip to the US today and there are rumours circulating that a meeting with Donald Trump could possibly be on the cards.

Government spokespeople have remained tight-lipped on the subject, stating there are “no plans” for such a meeting when questioned by the Leinster House press corp.

Enda Kenny travels to San Francisco today and has a number of engagements in New York on Friday and Saturday. During that time, an opportunity to meet the President-elect could present itself in the last-minute (something a number of journalists travelling to the States are betting on).

But should a meeting be set-up? And is it a good idea for Kenny to meet Trump?

The Taoiseach did discuss a possible tête-à-tête during a telephone conversation this month, during which Trump also informed Kenny that he hopes to come back to Ireland some day.

Not everyone on Kildare Street and beyond is enamoured with the idea though.

Labour Senator Aodhán O Riordáin made his opinion on Trump quite clear in a speech in the Seanad recently, where he said:

“America has just elected a fascist and the best thing that the good people in Ireland can do is to ring him up and ask him, is it OK to still bring the shamrock on Saint Patrick’s Day?”

Source: Shoah Business/YouTube

The video of his speech was picked up and shared around the world.

O Riordáin told TheJournal.ie this week, however, that he could understand why Kenny would meet Trump, adding: ”He is going to have to meet him at some point.”

Leadership

However, he pointed out that the thousands of undocumented Irish living in the US needed “a level of leadership shown by the government” at this time.

The senator said that if such a meeting was to take place, it was up to the Taoiseach to reaffirm the values of the Irish people with the new administration.

O Riordáin said he would not like to see any sort of fawning over Trump.

He criticised the language used by Kenny in recent tweets congratulating Trump on the election and about his conversation with vice president-elect Mike Pence.

“Body language and words matter here,” explained the Labour senator.

“What he [Enda Kenny] says and how he says it could define him for the next 50 years,” concluded O Riordáin.

Fine Gael’s Jerry Buttimer told TheJournal.ie that he did not have problem with the Taoiseach meeting Trump, stating that his party’s leader has certain obligations.

However, the senator added that Kenny also has an obligation to relay to Trump what is important to the Irish people, be it in terms of economics, trade, the undocumented Irish and human rights issues.

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“We need to stand up on issues we don’t agree with him and vice president Pence on,” said Buttimer.

“We can’t go cap in hand, we have to be strong on the values we believe in.”

Visit to Facebook

During his travels, Kenny will meet with firms and key investors in Silicon Valley and will also take in a visit to Facebook headquarters.

In New York, the Taoiseach will address a number of influential business groups including the Partnership for New York City and attend a gathering hosted by Peter Grauer, Chairman of Bloomberg.

He will meet a number of existing and potential investors in Ireland and attend the signing of a partnership between Enterprise Ireland and Northwell Healthcare Group.

According to his department, the Taoiseach will also engage with Irish-American political, business and community leaders at receptions in both Palo Alto and New York.

Commenting on his programme for the trip, Kenny said:

My visit to the United States is a timely opportunity to engage with key business leaders to promote Ireland and highlight our strengths as a gateway for US firms into Europe and other global markets. In all engagements I will highlight our highly skilled workforce, our competitive tax offering and our focus on innovation as well as our strong commitment to EU membership.

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