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Trump bombshell: Northern Ireland First Ministers Foster and McGuinness congratulate 45th President of United States on victory

By Jonny Bell

Northern Ireland's First Ministers have congratulated Donald Trump on becoming the 45th President of the United States.

First Minister, Arlene Foster said: “I congratulate Donald Trump on his historic election as the 45th President of the United States of America.

“We are a small region but we are fortunate to have strong historical, economic and political ties to the United States.

“Northern Ireland has developed a mutually beneficial relationship with the United States and I look forward to working with Donald Trump’s administration to continue this.

“As our largest inward investor the United States plays a massive role in our economic progress.”

The deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness added: “I congratulate Donald Trump on his election victory.

“I will work constructively with President Trump to maintain and strengthen our well established and deeply valued relationship with the United States.

“Over many years successive US administrations have made a major contribution to both our peace process and economic development and I expect this to continue.

“I commiserate with Hillary Clinton who showed unwavering commitment to the north of Ireland as Secretary of State and First Lady.”

We are a small region but we are fortunate to have strong historical, economic and political ties to the United States - Arlene Foster

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MLA expressed his deep disappointment at the shock outcome. He had said he would not visit the White House under a Trump administration. He has reaffirmed that pledge.

Mr Eastwood said: “Across the western world, politics is facing a dark and difficult moment.

“As Rowan Williams recently wrote, we are now understandably terrified about the potential triumph of a politics of resentment, fear and unchallengeable untruthfulness.

“That was true post Brexit; it feels so much truer now.

“As things fall apart, the centre ground is struggling to know what is worth holding on to. Mainstream politics remains uneasy and unsure as to its place, its power and its purpose."

He added: "Donald Trump has swept in to fill this vacuum. Trump’s victory was anti-establishment, anti-immigrant and most particularly anti-globalisation.     

“This morning there will be the easy and understandable temptation to turn to anger at the ignorance, misogyny and racism which has fed this victory. I am conscious that this is particularly the feeling amongst a huge swathe of young people, not only in America, but across the world.

“Instead of anger though, I think it would be better for us all if we displayed the softer sentiment of sadness. It would be better if we reflect on and react to this result and ensure that his victory and vision is not one which endures.

“Trump’s was not so much a victory of right over left, it was a victory of fanatical and fantasy absolutism over a more considered, coherent and kinder politics. This is increasingly the choice that western electorates now face.

“It is for this reason I have said that I will not attend a Trump White House. I choose to stand by a very different set of values than those displayed by this man.

“I will understand if those in government, north and south, feel a duty of office to attend.  However, I feel it is important that as an Irish leader I take a stand, even if only small and only symbolic, for the kind of politics which we continue to believe in.

“I will continue to work with our many friends across America. Trump’s presidency will not stop that engagement with business and political figures.  It will not stop that special bond of friendship and history which will endure beyond the Trump presidency.”

'Prejudiced and blinded liberal pundits of the media defied by the will of ordinary people' - Sammy Wilson

Meanwhile, the North Antrim DUP MP Ian Paisley told the BBC it was important to build relationships with the incoming president.

He welcomed the victory saying he and his father first met Mr Trump in 2006 and they had remained friends ever since and Northern Ireland could have a "good relationship" with his administration.

"This was about the little guy biting back and he bit back with vengeance," he said.

While Sinn Fein's Declan Kearney said there was now a period of "unknown and uncertainties" in American poilitics.

Jim Allister echoed Hillary Clinton's words about Trump voters being "deplorables," in congratulating President Elect Trump.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson added: "Just like the decision to leave the EU the prejudiced and blinded liberal pundits of the media never saw the election of Donald Trump coming.

"As with Brexit they couldn’t believe that there were large numbers of people who did not hold their view of life, politics and how society should be ordered.

"Once again they have been defied by the will of ordinary people who like straight talking and are fed up of a ruling elite who think they know better than the rest of the population.

"Already the bad losers in the USA are doing the same as they did with Brexit they are talking their country down and highlighting all the problems which a Trump administration will face."

Mr Wilson continued: "There will be challenges for policies like NI from an administration which may be less inclined to support free trade and will try to keep jobs in America rather than have US firms invest abroad.  That is why it is essential that NI establish good relationships with the new US administration and does not react in the childish and petulant way which the leader of the SDLP has said he would do by boycotting events in the White House etc.

"Trump has recognised the historic step the British people took by leaving the EU. He has made it clear that he will look favourably of trade deals with our country and unlike Obama will not put us “to the back of the queue”.

"We should respect the decision of the American people, realise that they have elected a straight talking president and do some straight talking ourselves as to why economic links between his country and ours can be mutually beneficial."

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