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Trump is interested in NI and its history, says special envoy as he hails Executive's virus response

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President Trump’s special envoy to Northern Ireland Mick Mulvaney

President Trump’s special envoy to Northern Ireland Mick Mulvaney

President Trump’s special envoy to Northern Ireland Mick Mulvaney

US President Donald Trump is interested in what is happening in Northern Ireland and has knowledge of its history, according to his recently appointed special envoy.

Mike Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff before his appointment as special envoy to Northern Ireland, also praised the Executive's response to the Covid-19 pandemic in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

Mr Mulvaney, who because of travel restrictions has not yet visited here since his appointment was announced in March, said he is "chomping at the bit" to make the journey. He is in touch with political and business leaders.

The envoy said he spoke to Mr Trump on Wednesday, a day before the recorded BBC interview for Sunday Politics, and that Northern Ireland was mentioned along with recent US Supreme Court decisions and golf games.

They talked about the challenges thrown up by travel restrictions and "how things were going in Northern Ireland, how they were dealing with Covid, so it was a substantive conversation".

Mr Mulvaney added: "If he is interested in a topic, he is as detail-orientated as anybody, and for some reason he is interested in Northern Ireland and asks about it just about every time we talk."

Mr Trump knows "the history better than I ever expected", he added.

On the current tense relationship within the Executive leadership, Mr Mulvaney said: "We are very excited... about the success that Northern Ireland has had dealing with Covid-19.

"They worked really, really, well together and so they have proven to themselves that they are capable of doing it."

That shared experience and "positive energy" can be funnelled into focusing on the future, particularly economic development, he said.

Private equity businesses are watching how different governments are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, and will note how Northern Ireland has approached the crisis, Mr Mulvaney added.

Meanwhile, Trump has vowed to "safeguard" America's values from enemies within in a speech to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Mr Trump watched paratroopers float to the ground in a tribute to America, greeted his audience of front-line medical workers and others central in responding to the coronavirus pandemic and opened up on those who "slander" him and disrespect the country's past.

"We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and the people who, in many instances, have absolutely no clue what they are doing," he said. "We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children.

"And we will defend, protect and preserve (the) American way of life, which began in 1492 when Columbus discovered America."

Even as officials across the country pleaded with Americans to curb their enthusiasm for large Fourth of July crowds, Mr Trump enticed the masses with a "special evening" of tributes and fireworks staged with new US coronavirus infections on the rise.

But the crowds wandering the National Mall for the night's air show and fireworks were strikingly thinner than those gathering for last year's jammed celebration. Many who showed up wore masks, unlike those seated close together for Mr Trump's South Lawn event, and distancing was easy to do for those scattered across the sprawling space.

Belfast Telegraph