Belfast Telegraph

Peaceful protest fine, says Varadkar ahead of Trump's Irish visit

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

By Conor Feehan

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he would not criticise anyone for taking part in a protest as Ireland prepares to host US President Donald Trump in the coming weeks.

Protests are expected to be organised once details of the visit - which has yet to be confirmed by the White House - are announced.

Asked about potential demonstrations yesterday, Mr Varadkar said: "Peaceful protest is part of a democracy and I would certainly never criticise anyone for taking part in a protest if that's the way they wish to express their views."

Asked if they should be allowed to protest near where he is meeting Mr Trump, Mr Varadkar said that decision would be for the police.

"None of that has been worked out and that's going to be a matter for the gardai, who have to make those decisions based on security grounds," he added.

"But, as has been the case always in the past, the President of the United States has a welcome in Ireland and I believe we should respect the office even if people have particular views about the current incumbent.

"The links that exist between Ireland and America are very strong; they are about the economy and jobs, they are about citizenship, there are family links too and cultural links and we want to keep those links strong, regardless of who is Taoiseach or President."

Mr Trump is expected to visit between June 5 and 8.

It is thought he will use his Doonbeg golf resort in west Co Clare as his base.

The Taoiseach is expected to meet Mr Trump at another hotel in the area, Dromoland Castle.

Former US President George W Bush met the former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at the five-star hotel in 2004.

Mr Varadkar said the Irish Government had not yet received official confirmation of the visit, adding that protocol dictated the announcement must come from Washington.

"So the announcement, if and when it comes, will come from the White House," he said.

But he added that he was aware of the criticism levelled by many at Mr Trump.

The Taoiseach said he had been among the critics of the President.

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