Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Rome and Ireland: the latest chapter of a long story

UPDATE:

Following their meeting in Rome, Higgins has raised the prospect of Pope Francis visiting Northern Ireland when he visits Dublin next year, according to RTÉ.

ORIGINAL POST:

Irish President Michael D. Higgins will meet with Pope Francis, 22 May, in Rome, two days ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s more attention-grabbing visit to the Vatican.

Higgins and the pontiff will discuss “issues of regional and global importance,” according to a press statement. They are also sure to talk about Pope Francis attending the August 2018 World Meeting of Families in Dublin.

The pope’s trip to the island of Ireland has fueled speculation of a possible side visit to Northern Ireland, which would match or surpass the historic 2011 state visit of Queen Elizabeth II to the Republic. Her trip came 100 years after her grandfather, King George V, became the last British royal to travel to what became independent Ireland after the island’s 1921 political partition. Higgins reciprocated the Queen’s visit in 2014 when he became the first Irish president to make a state visit to the United Kingdom.

Pope John Paul II visited the Republic in 1979, but he did not travel to the North, then in the thick of sectarian violence known as the Troubles. One can only imagine what sort of reception he would have received at the time from the late unionist firebrand Rev. Ian Paisley.

“I denounce you, Anti-Christ! I refuse you as Christ’s enemy and Antichrist with all your false doctrine,” Paisley yelled at the pontiff in a 1988 visit to the European Parliament. Paisley eventually entered a power-sharing government with Catholics, including former IRA man Martin McGuinness.

Six years ago, Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny criticized the “dysfunction, disconnection, elitism, and narcissism” of the Catholic Church for its handling of clergy abuse of children in Ireland. Rome recalled its papal nuncio to Ireland, reporting at the time to Pope Benedict XVI. The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs closed its embassy in the Vatican, ostensibly as a cost-cutting measure. It reopened in 2014.

Kenny, who just announced his resignation, met with Pope Francis in November 2016 and offered his “full support” for next year’s World Families visit. The lesson here seems to be that whatever is true of today’s political dynamics, they most likely will change in the future. The pontiff and Trump might even patch up their previous disagreement.

For an exploration of an earlier rift between Ireland and the Vatican, read my piece about the troubled founding of St. Patrick’s Church in Rome during the Irish Land War period of the 1880s.

Higgins’ itinerary also includes a visit with Irish clergy and lay staff working at the Vatican during a reception at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome. Founded in 1628, it is the last of the many Irish Colleges that were once scattered over Europe when it was not possible to educate priests in Ireland, the college website says.

The Irish tricolor hangs from the balcony of its embassy to the Holy See in this April 2017 photo during my visit to Rome.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, 2017

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I’ll be updating this post through the day with news of the Irish and Irish America on this special day.

Burns still waiting on Senate vote for Irish ambassadorship

“To think of it: my grandfather was a very poor immigrant in County Kerry in 1892 and a little over 120 years later I am being selected as a representative of 35 million or 40 million Americans of Irish heritage and this president to go to Ireland. It is astonishing; I have to pinch myself.”

U.S. Ambassador to Ireland nominee Brian Burns in The Irish Times.

“The extraordinary support provided by Brian Burns, members of the Burns family, and their associates and friends has helped make Boston College one of the world’s leading centers for the study and appreciation of Ireland and the Irish diaspora.”

Christian Dupont, head librarian at the John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College (Brian Burns is a son of John J. Burns. This is a great collection, which I visited in 2013.)

“I read the Irish papers from time to time, and I see nothing but criticism for President Trump. That’s a huge error.”

Burns quoted in the Palm Beach (Fla.) Daily News

As of 20 February, a Senate vote to confirm Burns has not been scheduled.

Brian Burns at BC in 2012.

Kenny urged to skip St. Paddy’s Day visit to Trump

You know global politics have entered uncharted territory when the Irish leader is urged to boycott the annual St. Patrick’s Day visit to the White House. But that’s how toxic U.S. President Donald Trump has become in the wake of slapping travel restrictions on immigrants and other visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries. A federal judge has temporarily blocked the order.

Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny “will need the luck of the Irish if he is to pull off this year’s visit without significant criticism,” the Washington Post said in a wave of coverage on both side of the Atlantic about the scheduled visit. So far, Kenny insists he will fly to Washington in mid-March.

An online poll in the Dublin-based TheJournal.ie measured 34 percent of respondents saying Kenny should make the trip, compared to 33 percent believing he should dump Trump. Another 28 percent said Kenny should make the trip but voice displeasure with the policy. At New York-based Irish Central, online polling showed 47 percent support for Kenny meeting with Trump, with 27 percent opposed and 23 percent in favor of the Irish leader visiting the U.S. but not the White House. (Both poll results as of 4 February.)

Kenny was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Trump shortly after the American’s victory in November. “He is looking forward to doing business with Ireland and I asked him specifically about Patrick’s Day, he is looking forward to continuing that tradition over many years,” Kenny said.

The Irish Times editorialized that the annual visit “is not just a hooley.”

The celebrations express publicly on the part of both the Irish and the U.S. sides a commonality of interests, values, and heritage, of interconnectedness. And, importantly, a shared commitment to the North’s peace process and political reconciliation, to which this annual jamboree has made a significant contribution. …

There are other ways [than boycotting the visit] to convey to Donald Trump the conviction of our people that he has broken with some of the noblest traditions and values of his country and ours , and our determination that we will not be party internationally to his narrow “America First” unilateralist project.”

Obama will return to Ireland in ‘coming year or so’

Outgoing President Barack Obama will return to the Republic of Ireland “in the coming year or so,” according to U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley. “The last sentence the president said to me … [4 January] when we were saying goodbye, was ‘please tell them I’m coming’,” O’Malley told RTÉ host Marian Finucane.

While the location or context of his return is less clear than the timing, Obama is generally popular in Ireland. His May 2011 visit included a stop in Moneygall, County Offaly, the ancestral home of his great-great-great grandfather.

Since then, a service plaza was erected in Obama’s honor on the M7 motorway just outside the village. In addition to petrol and fast food, the place is packed with Obama souvenirs, plus memorabilia of popular presidents Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy. In a contemporary sense, it might be the most Irish-American spot in all of Ireland, through certainly not the most scenic or historic.

Barack Obama in Moneygall in 2011.

Obama, who also visited Northern Ireland in June 2013 for a G8 summit, leaves office 20 January, the inaugural of President-elect Donald Trump, who owns a golf resort in Doonbeg, County Clare. O’Malley will leave his Dublin post a few days earlier due to a demanded from the incoming administration that all non-career ambassadors depart immediately.

IrishCentral, citing a tweet from New York Times writer Maggie Haberman, reports the next U.S. Ambassador to Ireland will be philanthropist and businessman Brian Burns, the grandson of an emigrant from Sneem, County Kerry.  Burns, 80, and his wife, Eileen, have been close friends of Trump through the Palm Beach and Mar-A-Lago connection.

O’Malley, a St. Louis trial lawyer whose grandparents emigrated from County Mayo in the early 20th century, was appointed by Obama in June 2014 after a record-setting 18-month gap following the departure former ambassador and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney.

Trump to continue St. Patrick’s Day tradition at White House

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has invited Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny to the White House for St Patrick’s Day in 2017, continuing a tradition that dates to 1952. Trump and Kenny spoke with each other for about 10 minutes on 9 November.

“He understands Ireland very well, he was complimentary about the decisions made about the economy here,” Kenny told The Irish Times. “He is looking forward to doing business with Ireland and I asked him specifically about Patrick’s Day, he is looking forward to continuing that tradition over many years.”

Trump owns a golf resort in Doonbeg, County Clare, which was “buzzing with activity” the day after his election, the TheJournal.ie reported.

Read my five-part blog series about U.S.-Irish relations at St. Patrick’s Day, which explores 1916, the year of the Rising, and 25-year anniversaries in 1941, 1966 and 1991; plus 1976, the year of the American bicentennial.

Below, watch a U.S. Embassy in Ireland-produced video about the White House shamrock ceremony.

Irish opinion on Trump’s triumph

Here’s a first day sampling of Irish and Irish-American opinion about Donald Trump’s shocking presidential victory.

      • On behalf of the Government and the people of Ireland, I am pleased to offer our sincere congratulations to Donald J. Trump on his election as the 45th President of the United States.

Statement by An Taoiseach (Enda Kenny) on the election of Mr Donald J. Trump

  • The republic of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt is now the United Hates of America, held together, insofar as it will hold together at all, by fear and loathing.

Fintan O’Toole in The Irish Times.

            • Five areas of immediate concern for Ireland: Undocumented Irish; multinationals; trade; border controls and visa programs; and cross Atlantic relationships.

Philip Ryan in The Irish Independent

            • Why so many Irish Americans voted for Trump? The answer I heard most often was that these voters could stomach [his] flaws because, they believed, Trump would do greater good by “draining the swamp,” that is Washington.

Niall O’Dowd in Irish Central (U.S.)

            • In comparison to Hillary Clinton, who made several visits to Northern Ireland over the past 21 years, Donald Trump is more of an unknown quantity so far as most Stormont politicians are concerned.

BBC NI Political Editor Mark Devenport

            • The election of Donald Trump … is America’s Brexit vote. He is its Putin, Orban, Erdogan, Duterte, wrapped into one unique, grotesque, autocratic form, and, yes, also a cry of despair. But caveat emptor U.S. voters have no idea what they have bought.

“They Know Not What They Do,” editorial in The Irish Times

The entrance of Trump's Doonbeg golf course in County Clare during my July visit.

The entrance of Trump’s Doonbeg golf course in County Clare during my July visit.

Trump attacks Clinton’s ties to Ireland

Donald Trump is making an issue of Hillary Clinton’s relationship with Irish businessman Denis O’Brien.

O’Brien is listed by the Clinton Foundation as having made $10 million to $25 million in donations to the charity as of June 2016, The Irish Independent reports. The Irish government is also listed as fifth among 19 nations that have donated to the Foundation, contributing in the range of $5 million to $10 million.

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Bill Clinton and Denis O’Brien

“This attack may not be deliberate Trump payback for overt political assaults on him by senior politicians in the Dáil this year, but it should be enough to worry Irish voters,” Colum Kenny writes in The Irish Times. “With the E.U. going after tax breaks for U.S. jobs here, we do not need a pissed-off president in the White House.”

Here’s the email the Trump campaign sent to reporters, which quotes extensively from Irish and U.S. media reports.