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TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY is in the hot seat this afternoon and likely to face fierce questioning from opposition leaders about US President Donald Trump’s recent decisions. 

AO9Z1641 British PM_90501403 Source: RollingNews.ie

Christina Finn here to take you through what is expected to be an interesting Leaders’ Questions.

It’s the day after his press conference with UK PM Theresa May which was dominated by questions about US President Donald Trump’s latest Executive Order.

This latest move has landed on our doorstep with Enda Kenny announcing yesterday that he has order a complete review of the pre-clearance facilities at both Shannon and Dublin airports.

He also cleared up any doubt about his visit to the White House this St Patrick’s Day, stating that he will be accepting the invitation.

Enda Kenny has just arrived in the chamber and there is no doubt there are plenty of questions about to be levelled at him.

First up, Micheál Martin.

“Ireland the US have always had a very special and historic relationship.”

However, he said the events over the last few days have many people very concerned.

Pointing out the “casual attempt to humiliate the Mexican President” as well as the banning of nationalities on the basis of nationality and religion.

“It stigmatise an entire religion and associates it with terrorism and mayhem.”

He says it emboldens people to act against those of the Muslim faith.

Martin said it is very striking how the world reacted to refugee crisis in WW2 and how the world is reacting today.

He said the Taoiseach should travel to the White House on St Patrick’s Day.

“It’s not just about the bowl of shamrock.”

Enda says the impacts of the Executive Order made by Donald Trump is unclear and the legal position is “evolving”.

He said those with dual-citizenship, if they present their Irish passport – that is the passport they are judged.

They will not be hindered from entering the United States.

Martin asks Taoiseach if he will formally say that the order is morally wrong.

Have you written to the US President?

“I have not written to him,” said Kenny, who said he plans to say his piece to him in person on his St Patrick’s Day.

Enda says he does not object to an all-party motion outlining opposition to the new US policy.

“We were those immigrants,” said Kenny.

All at Cabinet were in favour of retaining our pre-clearance system at Irish airports, said Kenny.

He adds that the Attorney General said the legality is matter entirely for US courts.

Gerry Adams said Kenny should have acted more decisively on the issue.

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Gerry Adams says he’s “up for” all-party Dáil motion, but is disappointed that Kenny has not written to Trump in protest.

He says he wants the Taoiseach to outline the Irish people’s opposition in the strongest possible terms to the “racist, anti-women” policies of Trump.

Enda Kenny said diplomatic contact has been made in relation to border protection.

“I intend to meet the undocumented [Irish],” said Kenny.

“Obviously no person is vulnerable to be deported from here,” clarifies the Taoiseach.

Bans on the basis of religion are not morally acceptable and I disagree entirely with the position that has been laid out.

Gerry Adams says he is disappointed that Enda Kenny has not written to the US president.

Adams says he wrote to the Taoiseach on the matter last week and he also wrote to Donald Trump in relation to the issue.

Kenny says the White House visit is not just about meeting the US president – he says there’s a whole host of other meetings taking place throughout the trip.

“It is more important than ever” for Ireland’s voice to be heard, says Kenny.

We were those people deputy Adams, we were those people…

I am not going to leave 50,000 of them isolated.

Next issue being raised – rural communities.

Enda Kenny outlines the money and plans in place in the Rural Development action plan.

He says there is an opportunity now for a lot of communities to benefit from the new plans.

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Stephen Donnelly TD now wants to talk about Brexit. He says there are opportunities that Ireland should be cashing in on.

Donnelly says there is a list of companies that are interested in relocating as they must have a presence in Europe.

“The word I am getting from senior executives … is they have not heard sight nor sound” from the Irish government.

He said businesses are actively being courted by the French, the Belgians, the Scottish parliament, among others.

Why are the government not active in getting businesses to relocate from locations like London to Ireland, asks Donnelly.

Enda Kenny says Donnelly might want to go back and speak to those friends.

He says the government are very active in this area.

We are not behind the scenes here in presenting our case.

We will fight our corner hard and we will fight our corner fair.

We are right in there… we are not behind the scenes.

Kenny says the government have deliberately “beefed up” the IDA to deal with this.

“Let’s do a deal here,” says the Taoiseach.

He asks Donnelly to give him the names of the business people who say they have not heard anything from the Irish government. Kenny says he will ensure they are contacted.

That’s it for Leaders’ Questions. Join us back here tomorrow.

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