President Trump wanted to meet with Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s Taoiseach, at his Irish golf course but that request was denied by Varadkar. Trump landed in Ireland Wednesday afternoon after his visit in England was completed. Instead of the golf course, the meeting between the two men took place at a VIP lounge inside Shannon Airport Wednesday.
I first started following developments in this story in May when final arrangements were being made for President Trump’s trip to the UK. An article in The Irish Times called Trump’s visit to Ireland into doubt because of a disagreement about a meeting venue between the two leaders. It looked to me to be a power struggle playing out and if that’s true, Prime Minister Varadkar won the battle. The issue was protocol, according to initial reporting.
An alternative location nearby, Dromoland Castle, was suggested. So, Team Trump began considering a stop in Scotland instead of Ireland. Dromoland Castle was the setting of a meeting between Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and President George W. Bush in June 2004. Varadkar was agreeable to a meeting in Co Clare (the Trump golf course is in Doonbeg) but not at the Trump-owned golf course.
The unique nature of a potential visit – a US president visiting his own private property in Ireland – has thrown up complex issues around protocol, and whether it constitutes a private or official visit.
While a trip to Scotland would not involve the president engaging in official activities, given that he will have already met the British prime minister and Queen Elizabeth during his state visit to Britain, a visit to Ireland would necessitate some formal engagement with the Government.
So, what that means is that President Trump could bypass a stop in Ireland and head to his golf course in Scotland instead. In Scotland, there would be the normal headaches of security concerns during a presidential visit but no formal visits. In the end, though, a location in Ireland was worked out and President Trump fulfilled a promise to visit Ireland this year that he made to Varadkar in March during his visit at the White House. And Varadkar denied President Trump a photo op on the grounds of his golf course.
As happened in the days before President Trump arrived in London, anti-Trump opponents spoke out against Trump’s visit before he landed in Ireland.
Both the Labour party and the Social Democrats have spoken out against Trump’s visit, stating he is “not welcome in Ireland.”
Labour Senator Aodhán O Ríordáin has said “Trump is no ordinary president” adding that he “is the face of hate, racism and division.”
Meanwhile, the Social Democrats have called his visit it “a betrayal of Irish values.”
The Irish prime minister voiced his approval of potential demonstrations, too. He said he would “certainly never criticise anyone for taking part in a protest if that’s the way they wish to express their views.” “This is a democracy and peaceful protest is a part of democracy.”
President Trump denied that bunking at his personal property in Ireland was meant as a publicity opportunity for the golf course when a reporter asked the question Wednesday.
Trump was asked by a reporter on Wednesday if the purpose of visiting Ireland was to promote his golf course. According to Irish media reports, it has never made a profit.
Trump responded: “I really wanted to do this stop in Ireland. It was really important to me because of the relationship I have with the people and with the prime minister.”
In Doonbeg, the Trumps are well-liked, mostly because of the jobs provided by the golf course. Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump took part in their own pub crawl Wednesday night, much to the delight of one pub owner, a distant cousin of Vice-President Mike Pence.
Even those who don’t work directly in the hotel understand its benefits. Pubs, shops and restaurants in the village rely on the business the resort brings in. The golf course evens runs a daily shuttle for its guests who want to experience village life outside of the luxury resort.
They were then ushered behind the bar, pouring pints to loud cheers. The pub owner, Hugh McNally, points out he is a long distant cousin of Vice President Mike Pence.
Rumors that the two might pop down to the pub had swirled around the village for a while. When they finally arrived, hours after the locals originally expected then, the pub’s patrons were ready. Some wore red MAGA hats. Others had US flags on the ready.
— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) June 6, 2019