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Coveney defends Trump visit

Wednesday, 5th June, 2019 5:05pm

An Tánaiste Simon Coveney has rejected criticism of US President Donald Trump’s Irish visit, saying the office of the president will always be welcome in Ireland.

Demonstrators will take to the streets on Grand Parade tonight, Thursday 6 June, to protest against the visit of President Trump, who was due to meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Shannon on Wednesday as part of his current European trip.

Organised by People Before Profit and Solidarity’s Cork groups, the protest is one of a number taking place in Clare, Dublin, Galway, Derry and Belfast in response to President Trump, who was staying at his Doonbeg golf resort in West Clare on Wednesday following his meeting with Mr Varadkar. He was due to visit France on Thursday before flying from Shannon to Washington on Friday.

Speaking to the Cork Independent, a spokesperson for Minister Coveney said, that while the Government disagreed with the Trump administration on some areas, the office of the President “will always be welcome in Ireland”.

“Ireland is a democratic country and the right to peaceful protest is absolute,” the spokesperson said. “The Tánaiste has no objection to peaceful protest. When it comes to meeting the US President, the relationship between Ireland and the United States is deep and vital. There are some areas where we disagree with President Trump, and they will be made clear in the meeting with him.”

Minister Coveney is not expected to meet President Trump during his visit, as he travelled to Belfast on Wednesday in a fresh attempt to restore a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.

Speaking about the protest, Amy O’Donoghue, spokesperson for People Before Profit Cork, called on people to support “women, Muslims, migrants, the LGBTQ community” who they said had been targeted by President Trump during his presidency.

“As a country with such a history of migration, our solidarity should also be with the migrant families separated at the US border and denied basic human rights.”

Asked about the presence of US companies in Ireland, she added: “US companies choose their locations based on profitability, not political allegiance. Those based in Cork are here for the English-speaking workforce and access to European markets. Protesting against Trump is not going to sour the deal.”

While Lord Mayor Cllr Mick Finn said he didn’t agree with much of President Trump’s politics and respected people’s right to protest, he questioned the effectiveness of protesting and suggested it was “optics by the party people organising it”.

The protest will take place outside the City Library at 6pm today.

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