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'A total exaggeration': Tánaiste dismisses reports of row between government and US over Trump visit

It has been widely reported that Trump will be in the country for a number of days at the beginning of June.

Trump and Varadkar meeting at the White House.
Trump and Varadkar meeting at the White House.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Updated May 19th 2019, 1:28 PM

TÁNAISTE SIMON COVENEY has played down rumours that there is a row between the White House and the Irish government over the location of a potential meeting between Donald Trump and Leo Varadkar during the US president’s expected visit next month.

It has been widely reported that Trump will be in the country for a number of days at the beginning of June. However, there has been no official confirmation as of yet coming from the White House. 

Reports in US media and the Irish Times this week have suggested that there is a standoff between both countries over where the meeting will take place. 

It is reported that White House officials and Trump want the meeting between the two leaders to take place at Trump’s Doonbeg golf resort in Clare. However, Varadkar and Irish want a more neutral venue. 

Irish government officials are said to be exploring the possibility of hosting a meeting at Dromoland Castle in Co Clare.

But speaking on This Week on RTÉ Radio 1, Coveney called media reports about a standoff between the two countries “a total exaggeration”.

“Let me just reassure people: there’s no row, that’s the first thing. And there’s certainly no row over Doonbeg versus other locations,” he said.

“The reason why there’s been a delay here,  or uncertainty, is that the US are essentially working out the President’s visit to the EU, what’s going to be a private element of that visit and what’s going to be very public.

“And in that context they’re looking at Ireland.”

The Tánaiste said it was inappropriate for him to reveal details of the visit until the US confirmed that such a visit was taking place, but added that the government expected clarity on the issue “in the next couple of days”.

His comments follow a similar denial of a standoff by the Irish embassy in Washington.

A spokesperson for the embassy in the White House told RTÉ News there was no row between the two countries on the issue. 

“Contrary to what has been reported, there is no standoff about the venue for a meeting between President Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. There have been some preliminary discussions on venues”.

Having met him twice in the White House, the Taoiseach would welcome an opportunity to meet President Trump should he decide to visit Ireland while he is in Europe next month.

Protests 

Opposition parties have signalled that they will hold protests should Trump visit. 

Both the Labour party and the Social Democrats have spoken out against Trump’s visit, stating he is “not welcome in Ireland”.

Labour Senator Aodhán O Ríordáin has said “Trump is no ordinary president”  adding that he “is the face of hate, racism and division”.

Meanwhile, the Social Democrats have called his visit it “a betrayal of Irish values”.

Trump is due to visit the UK and France at the start of June for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Sources say that if the trip goes ahead he is expected to arrive in Ireland, where he will stay at his Doonbeg resort in Co Clare, on 5 June.

It’s expected he will then head to France for further World War II commemorative events the following day, before returning to Doonbeg for another overnight stay.

With reporting from Stephen McDermott.

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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