Democracy Dies in Darkness

Politics

Irish government says Trump has scratched planned trip to Dublin this fall

September 11, 2018 at 2:39 PM

President Trump welcomes Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar for a St. Patrick's Day reception March 15 at the White House. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

President Trump has canceled a trip to Ireland, the Irish government said Tuesday, amid planned protests over his climate policies, international relations and treatment of immigrants, women and minorities.

The visit had been projected for November, when Trump is scheduled to be in Europe for a French commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

“We can confirm that the proposed visit of the U.S. president is postponed,” said Laura Durkan, a spokeswoman for Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. “The U.S. side has cited scheduling reasons.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that Trump still plans to travel to Paris. “We are still finalizing whether Ireland will be a stop on that trip,” she said. “As details are confirmed we will let you know.”

The cancellation was first reported by the Irish Independent newspaper, which noted that political parties, including Labour and the Greens, had planned to protest the Nov. 12 visit to Dublin. Other protests were planned in Dublin and other Irish cities.

Trump had planned to spend one day in the Irish capital before traveling to a Trump golf course in Doonbeg, in County Clare.

Related: [Protests planned for Trump visit to Ireland]

The White House had announced the visit on Aug. 31, taking Varadkar by surprise.

“It came a little bit out of the blue,” Varadkar said in an interview on RTE Radio One this month. “We hadn’t known until just a couple of days ago that he was going to take the opportunity.”

When the trip was announced, Ireland’s Labour Party tweeted that Ireland is “an open and tolerant nation. Trump’s values are not our values, and there should be no welcome mat laid out for a man of his worldview.”

The tweet included a photo with a caption that said, “The invitation to Trump is unnecessary, unwelcome & unwise.”

Labour leader Brendan Howlin tweeted that Trump “has been no friend of democracy or human rights.”

“We will always be firm friends of the American people, but Ireland will not welcome a man with Trump’s record of discrimination, sexism and lies,” Howlin said.

On Tuesday, Labour tweeted a statement from Irish Sen. Aodhan O Riordain, the party’s education spokesman, welcoming the cancellation.

“Clearly the outpouring of objections to this visit has had the desired effect,” he said.

Jon Tonge, an expert in Irish politics at the University of Liverpool, said Varadkar would be “breathing large sighs of relief” at the cancellation and “won’t be in any big hurry to reschedule.”

Such strong popular opposition to a U.S. leader is unusual for Ireland, where a U.S. presidential visit is usually a chance to happily mark the close ties between Ireland and the United States, sometimes over a Guinness, Tonge said.

When President Barack Obama visited in 2011, he went to the small village where his maternal great-great-great grandfather was raised and joked that he was searching for the missing apostrophe in his Kenyan surname.

“For any other U.S. presidential visit, the Irish administration would be licking their lips, doing little jigs of joy,” Tonge said.

But the “normalities are very, very different under a Trump regime,” he said, noting that the view of Trump in Ireland was “predominantly negative.”

Meanwhile, Russian media reported Tuesday that Trump may meet with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin during the same European trip that had included the planned Ireland visit.

The meeting would apparently be on the sidelines of the World War I Armistice Day ceremonies on Nov. 11.

“An invitation was made, which is being considered,” the Tass news agency quoted Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov as telling reporters. “I can only say that Trump has accepted the invitation. This is all; the meeting is under consideration as there is still time left.”

The meeting would be a follow-up to the stand-alone summit between Trump and Putin in July. That summit, in Helsinki, led to widespread criticism that Trump was deferential to Putin and did not challenge him about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.


Anne Gearan is a White House correspondent for The Washington Post, with a focus on foreign policy and national security. She covered the Hillary Clinton campaign and the State Department for The Post before joining the White House beat. She joined the paper in 2012.

Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University.

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