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Varadkar says he will not rescind Donald Trump's invitation to visit Ireland

Varadkar said rescinding the invite would cause a diplomatic incident.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said he will not rescind US President Donald Trump’s invitation to visit Ireland.

The invite was extended to Trump by the former Taosieach Enda Kenny during his St Patrick’s Day visit to the White House in March.

Prior to the visit, Varadkar said that he “wouldn’t be keen” on inviting Donald Trump to visit Ireland.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

When asked during his second Leaders’ Questions session today if he would rescind the invitation, he said he would not.

“I will not, of course, rescind that invitation,” he said, adding that to do so would be “inappropriate” and would create a “diplomatic incident”.

He said no progress has been made in organising such a visit and there is no timeline for it. Varadkar added:

I assure the deputy that in any dealings I have with the American Government and in the interactions and engagement I have with the chargé d’affaires who is here and who is acting US ambassador to Ireland, I will approach them based on the long-standing friendship that exists between our countries and the familial, cultural and economic links but I will never shirk from raising issues such as climate change.
I totally reject and oppose President Trump’s attempt to withdraw the US from the commitments made in Paris.  I will also raise our concerns regarding human rights and LGBT rights and other issues in America that very much oppose the values of the new European centre that I talk about.

The Green Party’s Eamon Ryan asked the new Taoiseach what he was going to protest against some of Trump’s policies.

pjimage Leo Varadkar and Donald Trump Source: PA

Varadkar said if he visits the US in the future or if he attends the White House next March, he will raise issues such as climate change, LGBT rights, and immigrant rights.

“I will absolutely include in those meetings discussions of the issues he mentioned, whether it is climate change, human rights, LGBT rights, and the need to respect Muslim people, whether they are citizens of our country or another country.”

He said he will “never shirk” from raising such issues, adding that he totally rejects the US pulling out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The Taoiseach said he will “absolutely” raise such matters in any such meetings he has with the US president.

Varadkar made reference to the speech US President John F Kennedy made in the Dáil in 1963 when he said that the power small countries have is to use their voice to set an example. “That is exactly what I intend to do,” he said.

Confidence in the Garda Commissioner 

In his second session taking Leaders’ Questions today, Varadkar was also asked by Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald if he had confidence in the Garda Commissioner, Noirin O’Sullivan.

O’Sullivan was before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday to answer questions on the financial irregularities in the Garda Training College at Templemore.

McDonald urged Varadkar not to turn a blind eye to the scandals like his predecessor Enda Kenny.

Yesterday, the Commissioner “could not or would not convey her confidence in her senior officers,” she said, asking the Taoiseach how the public are meant to have confidence in the force, when the Commissioner does not.

“Do you have confidence in the Garda Commissioner,” asked McDonald.

Varadkar said he does have confidence in the Garda Commissioner, as does the government. He said O’Sullivan is “fighting battles on many fronts”.

“That is most uninspiring,” replied McDonald, who pointed out he is treading down the same path as Enda Kenny.

Varadkar said the Charlton Tribunal is underway, as is a number of other investigations into garda scandals.

He said he would not rush to judgement until such investigations are completed.

“I don’t believe in kangaroo courts,” said Varadkar, adding: “I understand that you come from a political tradition that is okay with that, but I do not.”

Attorney General appointment

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin called for a full debate on the appointment of the former Attorney General, Maire Whelan, to the Court of Appeal.

Martin came in for criticism from Varadkar for comments he made yesterday in the Dáil.

Yesterday, Varadkar said that in the past Fianna Fáil had appointed people such as Supreme Court judge Frank Clarke and former Supreme Court judge Adrian Hardiman.

To which Martin replied: “Máire Whelan is no Frank Clarke. Máire Whelan is no Adrian Hardiman.”

Varadkar said he wanted to offer Martin the opportunity to retract the comments made.

The Taoiseach said he is concerned about the aspirations that were made against Whelan and her capabilities. He said he wanted Martin to be “mindful of the separation of powers” and wanted to give him the opportunity to withdraw his comments.

“You said she was lesser than other people … less capable than people that you mentioned,” Varadkar said.

“Take the opportunity to withdraw it,” butted in Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

You brought in the personalities – you named names, said Martin, adding that none of the other judges mentioned are subject to tribunal findings and citing the Fennelly report which criticises the former Attorney General Maire Whelan.

The matter is due to be debated in the Dáil later this afternoon.

Read: The 8 answers the Commissioner gave when asked if she had confidence in her team>

Read: ‘People are dying on waiting lists’: Harris urged to fix health service once and for all>

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