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'It's in our best interests to bite our tongues. Kenny's White House visit gives us a rare opportunity'

Enda Kenny must visit Donald Trump this St Patrick’s Day, writes Andrew McGinley.

Andrew McGinley

ADMITTING THAT ENDA Kenny is right is a difficult thing to do, particularly when it involves his resilient decision to visit Donald Trump on St Patrick’s Day.

Kenny has said that he will continue the sixty-four-year-old tradition of meeting the US President in The White House on St Patrick’s Day, despite nationwide pleas for him to cancel.

The controversial decision received the feverish backlash of TDs, journalists and a huge wave of the angered Irish public. One petition against the trip has successfully obtained well over 30,000 signatures.

Anti Trump sentiment is understandable

It’s completely understandable why such resentment for Trump exists. His temporary ban on people from a number of countries – mainly Muslim – from travelling to the United States, has startled the world. It is less understandable, however, why people are shocked.

Much of the controversies which have dominated his first weeks in office involve promises he clearly made before being voted in. Despite our predominant disapproval of Trump’s actions here this week, it is in Ireland’s best interests that Mr Kenny does travel to the White House on March 17.

Securing relations with the US

As the new US President operates with such ruthless intent, wouldn’t ensuring that relations with him remain as secure as possible be a wise strategy? Cancelling the trip would get massive attention both here and in the US, undoubtedly straining what has traditionally been a positive connection between our two nations.

A negative air may already exist between the two leaders. Before the election, Kenny openly labelled comments made by Trump as “dangerous and racist”.

Considering the comments may have been brought to the attention of Trump, however unlikely that is, cancelling the visit would only add fuel to the fire. A fire we should be doing utmost to keep quietly under control.

Trump spin

Would Trump be in anyway perturbed by the news that he was not receiving a hand-delivered bowl of shamrocks from Enda Kenny? It’s safe to assume that he wouldn’t be. In fact it’s unlikely he wouldn’t waste much time thinking about it at all. The problem would most likely arise from what Trump has branded the “crooked media”.

If Kenny cancelled the trip, the news would undoubtedly transpire into embarrassment for Trump, at the hands of the media. We can safely assume this would not sit well with the 45th President.

We must also look at how we have failed to bring issues to the fore in the past. Petitions were unheard of when bombs bombarded innocent middle eastern civilians during the Obama administration, when Iraqi detainees were inhumanely tortured under Bush, or while US-backed terrorist groups toppled President Assad, creating the current refugee crisis.

Why do we suddenly feel the need to make our disapproval known?

Is it because this time it is Trump? If so, fair enough, the man does himself little to no favours in the popularity stakes. But is it right to differentiate between leaders based on their popularity?

There is also the uncertainty that Brexit has brought. Our closest neighbours have basically broken continental ties, leaving us somewhat isolated and uncertain about what the future holds.

We have yet to learn what implications the controversial referendum result will have for Ireland. So ensuring that we have as many friends in the political world as possible, especially as powerful as the US, seems vital.

Economic prudence for Ireland

Trump has named Ireland as a nation that hosts US companies at the expense of their home economies. He has also clearly declared his intentions to dramatically lower corporate tax rates to lure such companies back to home soil. With 700 US companies having subsidiaries in Ireland and employing 150,000 people, perhaps we should be cautious.

Very little could happen that might deter Trumps intentions to take back US companies – a bowl of shamrocks definitely won’t have much influence – but having a conversation with him surely wouldn’t hurt our case. That’s considering Mr. Kenny is up to the task.

Judging by what has been an eventful first twelve days in office for Trump, many more shocks could well be on the horizon.

We must bite our tongues

The genuine intentions of the people of our country, one of the most welcoming and charitable nations in the world, must be admired. Seeing struggling people having an outlet suddenly denied has unnerved many of us, as we continue to hold our doors open. But sadly, on this occasion it seems to be in our best interests to bite our tongues, as bitter as it is.

If anything, the meeting does provide the rare opportunity for our leader to engage in talks with one of the most powerful world leaders. It is an ample opportunity for Enda Kenny to express any concerns he may have. It’s likely he won’t, much to the dismay of our peeved population.

Andrew McGinlely is a freelance writer, blogger and opinion sharing enthusiast from Co Galway. His work has featured in The Journal.ie, The Irish Independent, Writing.ie and A Lust For Life.

‘Not in my name’: 30k sign Irish petition against Kenny visiting Trump on St Patrick’s Day>

Enda Kenny says he will tell Trump in person that he disagrees with his travel ban>

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