Mary Robinson describes Donald Trump's controversial travel ban as 'un-American'

Former Irish president Mary Robinson (pictured) has described US president Donald Trump's controversial travel ban as "un-American", "anti-Muslim" and potentially illegal, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.

Ms Robinson made the comments as she said the "chilling" policy may be counter-productive as it is likely to be used by Islamic terrorist group Isis as a recruitment tool and a basis from which to justify attacks on the US.

Speaking on RTE Radio's Morning Ireland programme, Ms Robinson - who was Ireland's first female president between 1990 and 1997 before serving as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights until 2002 - said she "fears" the new influence of "extreme right wing" views at the White House.

Citing Mr Trump's controversial travel ban policy and the role of his advisor Steve Bannon, she said the "very disturbing" developments must be challenged.

"The trouble is this ban on all refugees from Syria and seven largely Muslim countries, it's very un-American. I think a lot of people believed what he [Mr Trump] was saying was just to gain votes, so it is chilling that so much of it is now becoming a reality.

"It's not going to make America safer. It will only encourage Isis, and if you look at the response from that region, it's quite clear they will only encourage Isis and make things worse.

"At the moment this is a cabal around Donald Trump, and I fear the influence of Steve Bannon, who is very well known for extreme right wing views.

"I certainly think they [the policies] are anti-Muslim," Ms Robinson said, adding that while she will not comment on whether Taoiseach Enda Kenny should travel to the White House of St Patrick's Day "he's a bit of a bully, and you have to stand up to bullies".

Speaking on the same programme, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar said he wants to make it clear that "on my behalf and on the behalf of the Government we don't support president Trump's actions at all".

"They're discriminatory on religious grounds and inhumane on humanitarian grounds on refugees, and they may well violate the UN human rights and also the US constitution," he said.

Mr Varadkar declined to comment on whether the implementation of the travel ban policy at US pre-clearance at Dublin and Shannon airports is legal, but that Ireland has to "respect" the right of a country to make its own laws.

He said Ireland will "keep this under review", but said Ireland will not remove pre-clearance and did not explain what other options are available as part of any review.

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