Belfast Telegraph

Tanaiste Simon Coveney foresees controversy over Donald Trump visit

Simon Coveney said the Government was ‘a little taken by surprise’ by the US president’s announcement.

Ireland’s deputy premier has said US president Donald Trump’s visit to the country will cause controversy.

Simon Coveney said the Irish Government was “a little taken by surprise” when Mr Trump made the announcement he was going to visit Ireland in November.

The US leader is expected to visit the country after he attends the Armistice Day commemoration in Paris.

Mr Coveney said: “It will be controversial because everything Donald Trump does these days is controversial.”

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Mr Trump’s announcement caught ministers by surprise (AP)

The Tanaiste added that the fact the Government was facilitating the visit did not mean the Government was endorsing US policies.

“We don’t agree with Donald Trump in terms of his approach to climate change, we don’t agree with his approach on migration, we don’t agree with his approach in terms of international trade and the imposition of tariffs,” he said.

Mr Coveney also said he did not agree with former premier Enda Kenny’s description of Mr Trump as a racist.

“I don’t say he’s a racist, but as I’ve said before I disagree with many of the policies that he advocates,” Mr Coveney said.

Speaking at the Fine Gael parliamentary party’s think-in event in Co Galway on Friday, the deputy premier said the negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU had intensified in recent weeks.

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Mr Coveney welcomed more ‘business-like’ dealings over the effect of Brexit (Simon Coveney/PA)

He said: “When Michel Barnier talks about the ticking clock, and a lot of work to do, and not much time to do it in, you know, it’s not a bluff.

“He means it.”

Mr Coveney said he was more confident about the negotiations than he was prior to the summer break.

“The engagement is now much more serious, much more business-like,” Mr Coveney said.

“Both sides I think are determined to deliver an outcome, because no agreement and a potential for a no-deal Brexit is an outcome where everybody loses – in particular the UK and Ireland, but the EU as well.

“Nobody wants that outcome.”

He added: “With some more flexibility on all sides I think a deal can be done, hopefully … by the end of October.”

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