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SDLP wants Belfast council to reject Donald Trump White House invite

Motion 'foolish' Belfast can't snub world's most powerful man, says UUP's Rodgers

Donald Trump

The SDLP is proposing a motion for the Lord Mayor of Belfast to reject an invitation to Donald Trump's White House for next year's St Patrick's Day celebrations.

SDLP councillor Brian Heading is proposing the motion for next week's council meeting.

He said the decision was "not simply about the economic decisions" of President Trump for business to disinvest in overseas territories but based on his divisive actions since taking office, specifically his refusal to clearly condemn white supremacists during the Charlottesville disturbances.

He said: "President Donald Trump is a man who has attempted to ban travel access to an entire religion, mocked the disabled and bragged about the sexual assault of women. Since his election he has given succour to bigots and racists under the guise of the ‘alt-right’ movement. Democrats across the world should have no fear of calling the fascists of that movement out for what they are.

“This city has had a long and proud association with a series of US presidents who have sought to galvanise our peace process on the basis of respect for the diversity of our society. We should not let that be tarnished by rushing to the sound of clicking cameras with a President who opposes the basic values of our peace.

"As Belfast’s first citizen, the Lord Mayor should reflect those values. That’s why we’re proposing our mayor decline any invitation to champagne socials at the Trump White House. The important business of enhancing our relationship with Irish America can be done outside of the White House and without the influence of a President who has already encouraged businesses to disinvest in Ireland.”

This motion is basically calling for a boycott of one of our closet allies - the United States of America Jim Rodgers

However, UUP councillor Jim Rodgers described the motion as "foolish" saying Belfast was in no position to turn down meetings with the "world's most powerful man".

"Normally the lord mayor only gets a couple of minutes with the president but you do get time with his key advisors. They are the people that tell him the road to go down and this motion won't do any good for our image in Belfast," he told the BBC Stephen Nolan show.

The former Lord Mayor and High Sheriff of Belfast said he and his party in no way supported the divisive comments of Mr Trump and his supporters.

"It is not the individual, it is the office that is key here," he said.

Mr Rodgers said he believed the motion would pass, as too did Brian Heading.

"This motion is basically calling for a boycott of one of our closet allies - the United States of America," added Rodgers.

 

"It is dangerous, it could have serious repercussions and that's what my worry and my party's worry is. We want to continue to forge closer links to every country in the world - you need jobs in Belfast, we need jobs in Northern Ireland and I don't want to see that thrown away by some stupid silly motion.

"It is the hardest thing in life sometime to make friends with people but it is very easy to make an enemy and we don't want to make enemies with anyone in the United States including the current president."

Earlier this year it was revealed former first ministers Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness invited Donald Trump to Northern Ireland, assuring him of a warm welcome.

 

Belfast Telegraph