Belfast Telegraph

Party leaders call on Enda Kenny to reject Donald Trump White House invite

Enda Kenny is facing calls to snub Donald Trump's invite to the White House over his travel ban on Muslims and refugees.

Two party leaders are urging the Taoiseach to boycott the traditional gifting of a bowl of shamrock to the US president on St Patrick's Day amid a growing global backlash over the immigration crackdown.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said a visit this year would be humiliating and depict Ireland as a weak supporter of Mr Trump.

"President Trump does not share our values," he said.

"Indeed, he is openly hostile to them. He and his team have made clear that he is unwilling to hear or even listen to discordant voices.

"In that context, the only thing a visit by the Taoiseach to the White House could achieve would be to present Ireland as a supine supporter of Trumpism.

"Such a presentation would be humiliating to the vast majority of Irish people who stand opposed to the policies being implemented by President Trump."

Mr Howlin called on Mr Kenny to confirm he would not travel to Washington on March 17.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan also urged the Taoiseach to postpone his visit to the White House.

"We respect the US political system and value our historic connections, but we cannot in all honesty hand over that bowl of shamrock in these circumstances," he said.

"It is time for our Taoiseach to represent our country and what we stand for in the world.

"We should do so in a civil and diplomatic manner, but proceeding as if everything is normal is not an option."

An online petition calling on Mr Kenny to boycott the White House has also attracted more than 10,000 signatures within 24 hours.

The US president has temporarily barred citizens from seven mainly Muslim countries - Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen - from entering the country.

All refugees have also been barred for four months but those from war-ravaged Syria are blocked indefinitely as part of a plan to stop "radical Islamic terrorists".

The ban is being implemented in Ireland at US immigration pre-clearance facilities at Dublin and Shannon airports.

In a statement, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said he shares the concerns of other European Union partners over the travel ban.

"While US immigration policy is a matter for the US authorities, it is clear that the most recent decisions could have far-reaching implications - both on humanitarian grounds and on relations between the US and the global Muslim community," he said.

"Accordingly, I share the concerns of other EU partners regarding this most recent development."

Mr Flanagan said some Irish citizens in the US are among the many "feeling great concern" about the immigration policy changes.

"I am conscious that matters are still evolving and that the US courts are now involved," he added.

"We will continue to monitor developments in this area very closely."

Mr Trump confirmed last week that his St Patrick's Day invitation to Mr Kenny, originally extended in a ten-minute phone call last November, still stands.

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