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Martin: European leaders need to 'stand up' and 'not be afraid' to disagree with Trump

Micheál Martin said Trump is ‘doing disservice to democracy’.

The Fianna Fáil leader says Trump's recent comments against some US congresswomen are 'outrageous'.
The Fianna Fáil leader says Trump's recent comments against some US congresswomen are 'outrageous'.
Image: Rollingnews.ie

FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin has said European leaders need to stand up and speak out against US President Donald Trump. 

Last weekend, the president attacked four US congresswomen in a series of tweets on, saying they should “go back” to their countries of origin. All but one of the women were born in America.

Martin said there comes a time when leaders need to “stand up” to such rhetoric from the US president, though he admitted that leadership does have its boundaries in terms of power. 

“There comes a stage when European politicians need to stand up, as well, for core values and not be afraid to say we fundamentally disagree with President Trump’s approach to progressive politicians who are making a difference in the United States, who have legitimate points to articulate,” said Martin.

And I think we want to encourage people to become involved in constructive politics that appreciate and value the case and principles of democracy and I think President Trump is doing disservice to democracy.

In his initial Twitter attack, Trump said the congresswomen came from corrupt, poorly managed countries to which they should return.

Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Pressley were all born in the United States while Omar arrived as a refugee from war-torn Somalia, which she fled as a child.

The House of Representatives voted to formally condemn Donald Trump for his attacks.

Following on from the comments, supporters of Trump chanted “send her back” at a rally on Wednesday in a reference to congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

During a heated rally in Greenville, North Carolina, Trump took aim once more at Democratic lawmakers who “hate” America.

‘Outrageous’

When asked about Trump’s comments this week, the Fianna Fáil leader called them “outrageous” and “ridiculous”. 

“I take great exception to what he said, and I think it was outrageous and totally at variance with the spirit at the core of the American nation,” he said, stating that the United States is about welcoming all races and creeds.

“That was the origins of the American state, and his comments were ridiculous, in terms of suggesting the newly elected representatives would go back to the countries of their parents, or grandparents in some cases, as if they were responsible for the poor governance in those countries. It was a ridiculous statement to make,” he added. 

‘Not be afraid’

When asked if he becomes Taoiseach one day, would he be the leader to stand up to Trump, Martin said:

There are limitations to power.

However, he added:

I would stand up for the values that I believe in as a democrat and a parliamentarian. When one is in government, to be frank, and represents the country, we deal with many countries whose political systems we don’t agree with, where there is not the same freedoms for example that we experience here so I don’t differentiate.
I think America is still a great democracy, it has its faults. So have we in our democracy.

Martin also raised concerns about what he calls the “coarsening of political language”.

“I do think the language being used to describe other public representatives, this demonisation of opponents, what I call the coarsening of political language,” he said. “I think is something we have had enough of.”

Government ministers and the Taoiseach have also called out the comments made by Trump this week, with Leo Varadkar stating the comments had the “hallmarks of racism”. 

Tánaiste Simon Coveney tweeted in relation to the chants heard at the Trump rally this week, stating: “This is chilling…. targeting individuals, fueling hatred based on race is not acceptable in political discourse… history tells us where this leads!”

Junior Minister John Halligan also tweeted: “This is incitement to hatred.”

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