President Donald Trump will visit Ireland in November
LIMERICK City and County Council could formally invite controversial American president Donald Trump to visit the county.
Mr Trump has confirmed he will visit Ireland in November, and while it’s likely he will visit Dublin and his golf course at Doonbeg, there are growing calls for him to head 80km east to Limerick.
Fianna Fail councillor Kevin Sheahan has this week formally submitted a motion to the next council meeting, proposing we “roll out the red carpet” for him, while Niall Collins said he would also back a Trump visit.
Independent councillor Emmett O'Brien has already indicated he will do likewise, a move which at least will force a debate on the issue at the next meeting on September 24 next.
And any rejection of this motion would no doubt cause diplomatic tensions.
“I would love it as a businessman, if he would visit Limerick, and invest in Limerick, either city or county. He is American president, a lot of people here don’t like him, but a lot of people in America love him,” Cllr Sheahan said.
Cllr O’Brien added: “I think it would be fantastic, absolutely fantastic, a great thing to have a president of the USA come to Ireland. We all have our views on the rights and wrongs of Donald Trump, but 62 million people voted for him, and he is the president of our chief ally.”
Senators Maria Byrne and Kieran O’Donnell also backed a visit from the 45th United States president.
But Labour TD Jan O’Sullivan, Maurice Quinlivan, Paul Gavan, and Cllr Cian Prendiville are all likely to join protests in Limerick City on the day of his visit.
Mayor James Collins said he “wouldn’t be pushing” for a Trump visit to Limerick.
Metropolitan mayor Daniel Butler admitted he would consider joining the protests saying: ”the man disgusts me.”
Mr Trump has divided opinion among many across the globe, and is considered to be the most divisive leader America has ever had.
But Deputy Collins said: “I’d have no problem welcoming the President of the USA to Limerick. America is one of the biggest economies in the world, and when the leader of that economy comes to our region, that’s a positive. It puts focus on the region in America.”
He admitted he is “repulsed” by a lot of Mr Trump’s actions, particularly his views on “women, the LGBT community, how he is treating children, as well as his imposition of sanctions which are impacting Aughinish”.
But he said the only way to solve these differences is through debate.
Former mayor, Cllr Stephen Keary said he would be in favour of a visit, adding: “The amount of financial benefit, jobs and employment generated from America is massive. Limerick would be literally growing weeds and daisies if we didn’t have these industries. Even at Shannon Airport: the army stopovers kept Shannon ticking over in the bad times.”
But his Fine Gael colleague, Cllr Jerome Scanlan, who has urged a ban on sending members to America while Mr Trump is in office, said if the president did come to Limerick he would make sure he is not in the same county.
“I certainly won’t be going anywhere nigh, next nor near him,” Cllr Scanlan told the Leader, “The best form of protest is to stay away. If he wants to come to Limerick, it’s a free country – but I won’t be here!”
Deputy mayor, Cllr Michael Collins said: “He would be welcome to Newcastle West. He is the leader of one of the largest countries in the world. Despite what people think of him, we have large American multi-nationals working out of Limerick. So we must make sure these companies remain strong, and allow them to keep trading.”
Sinn Fein Senator Gavan hit back, however, saying: “This is a man who has gone beyond the pale, all levels of what can be described as fair political action. He is an abomination. We should have no truck with him whatsoever. This is a perfect opportunity for people to express peacefully their distaste for Donald Trump, who is arguably the worst president in the history of the United States.”
Ms O’Sullivan added: “By protesting, we are standing in solidarity with the millions of Americans who don’t like him and what he stands for. I don’t see this as being anti-American at all. We have to protest against somebody who stirs up hatred among large numbers of people.”
She pointed out that President Michael D Higgins, who has protested against previous Republican presidential visits, could be put in an “awkward position” if he is still in Áras an Uachtaráin come November.