Letters to the President: Dear Mr Trump ...

Ahead of US President Donald Trump's visit to Ireland this week, we asked a broad range of individuals and organisations to compose open letters explaining why he was or wasn't welcome to this country.

Ireland is a different country from its past, moving forwards, not retreating backwards. We’ve made huge strides, from LGBTI to reproductive rights, among so many others. Your visit makes it even more blatantly clear to me that we can never take these rights for granted.

Amnesty’s role is to hold leaders to account. We challenged President Obama, and we are challenging you. Locking up child migrants, discriminatory travel bans, decimating global funding for women’s rights and withdrawing from human rights bodies - it’s been a roll-call of shame under your presidency.

And you have emboldened support for horrific policies. From border authorities intentionally inflicting mental anguish on child migrants, to the Alabama Senate’s ‘abortion ban’ that will endanger pregnant people’s lives, the USA is seeing a dark roll-back on human rights.

Your inflammatory and hateful rhetoric has real-life consequences. It’s clear you know this and yet it has only gotten worse. So, this letter is to tell you unequivocally: all of us who believe in human rights, in basic decency, will resist you.

We will resist your sexism, your racism, your hate and cruelty.

And we will win.

Colm O’Gorman, executive director, Amnesty International Ireland

Since you’ve become President you have rolled back environmental regulations, pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord and tweeted that climate change is "a hoax". Meanwhile, you sought to build a seawall to protect your golf course in Ireland with a planning application citing “global warming, predicted sea level rise and more frequent storm events”.

You have one message for yourself and another for the people you are supposed to lead. Meanwhile, the effects of climate breakdown are killing the very people you have a duty to protect. Like last November, when a fire raced into the Northern California town of Paradise with the loss of 85 lives.

In the USA, Extinction Rebellion protesters have already blockaded the Brooklyn Bridge, closed the entrance to San Francisco City Hall and occupied iconic sites in Los Angeles. Extinction Rebellion demands that your administration tells the truth about the climate and ecological crisis and reverse its policies. Otherwise, a sustained campaign of civil disobedience targeting your administration will be the result.

Yours,

Extinction Rebellion

(Extinction Rebellion is holding a Stand up to Trump! protest on Thursday on June 6 at 6pm at The Spire, O'Connell Street, Dublin 1)

Dear Mr President,

I am writing to you on behalf of Holocaust Education Trust Ireland (HETI) in advance of your visit to Ireland.

HETI aims to educate and inform people about the Holocaust. In so doing, it raises awareness about antisemitism and all forms of racism, and intolerance in Ireland.

HETI does not make party political statements but on this occasion and against the background of rising antisemitism worldwide and in particular the United States we would like to express our concerns.

A 2019 survey by the Jewish Electorate Institute found that 73% of American Jews feel less secure since your election to the presidency. Antisemitic attacks against synagogues since 2016 have contributed to this fear. The survey also found that combatting antisemitism is a priority issue in domestic politics among American Jews.

The NYPD reported a 75% increase in swastika graffiti between 2016 and 2018, with an uptick observed after the Pittsburgh shooting. Out of 189 hate crimes in New York city in 2018, 150 featured swastikas.

An even greater worry is the ever-increasing violence directed against Jews in the US. In October 2018 eleven people were killed and seven were injured at a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh followed shortly afterwards by the Los Angeles Synagogue attack. The Poway synagogue shooting occurred on April 27, 2019, when a gunman fired shots inside the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, California and killed one woman and injured three other people, including the synagogue's rabbi.

I urge you, Mr President, to stand up against antisemitism and hate crime!

Heino Schönfeld, director of Holocaust Education Trust Ireland

Dear President Trump,

In 1845, American abolitionist Frederick Douglass travelled throughout Ireland speaking about the evil of slavery. Douglass, who was also a supporter of workers’ rights and the rights of women, was welcomed in Cork, Dublin, Belfast and other towns and cities as an advocate for our common humanity.

Douglass’ visit coincided with the beginning of the Great Famine, which saw over 1.5 million Irish people emigrate to the United States. Like all immigrants, they remembered the country of their birth while helping build the country of their choice.

Your continued attacks on immigrants betray the promise of the country you were elected to lead.

Your history of attacks on members of minority ethnic and religious groups betrays the civil rights movement.

Your attacks on women betray basic decency.

Your attacks on workers and the trade union movement betray your own voters.

And your denial of climate breakdown betrays future generations in America, Ireland and around the world.

Frederick Douglass was among the first of many American politicians and presidents to be welcomed to Ireland.

174 years later you, Mr President, are not welcome.

Brendan Ogle, senior officer - Unite the union, Republic of Ireland

Dear President Trump,

At ICCL we believe in human rights and dignity.

We work hard every day to protect fundamental rights and we oppose anything that impinges on those rights. This includes racism, misogyny, trans- and homophobia, climate change denial, corporate malfeasance, police brutality and all forms of discrimination.

Many of your policies attack and violate human rights, both in the USA and in the international sphere. Your withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council, your denial of climate change, and your refusal to co-operate with international human rights bodies endangers all of our fundamental rights.

That is why we are exercising our own fundamental right to protest your visit to Ireland.

We are proud to stand alongside ACLU, our sister organisation, in opposing your dangerous and damaging policies and in standing up for fairness, equality and respect.

We will continue to vigilantly oppose the rise of authoritarianism and the politics of hate both at home and abroad. And long after you’ve left office, we’ll still be here, promoting rights and defending dignity.

Because Our Rights Trump Your Hate.

Sincerely,

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties

Dear President Trump,

I would like to welcome you to Ireland on behalf of all your Irish supporters.

I'm the CEO of www.irishwholovePresidentTrump.com.

I wanted you to know that you have the support of the Irish behind you despite the 'fake news' that is published daily - that's why I created the website. I wanted to inform the world on all the goodness you do.

You have changed my life and have awakened the political side in me that I never thought I had. Watching you from afar has inspired me to run as a presidential candidate and recently I just ran for the Local Elections for my area, Glasnevin which means, 'Stream of the Infants'.

Thank you so much for being a strong Pro-life voice and because of your stance on Pro-life issues, you can be guaranteed you have the support of the Irish Pro-life community right behind you.

I really hope I get to welcome you to Ireland in person on the 5th of June.

Lots of Love,

Sarah Louise Mulligan, CEO of irishwholovePresidentTrump.com

Dear President Trump,

Welcome to Ireland.

That’s what we’re supposed to say.

Not that I’ll be out to meet you. No. I’d be fine if you stayed away. Prefer it, even. But Ireland is, by its nature, a welcoming place. That’s what’s on the postcards and the TV ads with the cliffs in them, anyway.

You’d know, you bought one of them. A cliff, that is. Or something.

In Ireland, we welcome everyone, that’s the idea. There’s something called Direct Provision we need to work on, but mostly, we tell cruelty where to go; it held us in its grip a long, long time, dressed up as something else. But you’re the US President now so, fine: come. Let dealmakers ignore your losses and lies, to lay in puddles and let you step over them, breaking their backs to keep your shoes dry. It rains a lot in Ireland. Can ruin a good shoe.

Though less so now, as the planet slowly cooks. Sorry. Sorry. I’m not supposed to say. Not to you. Look, come. I couldn’t stop you. I won’t protest you, either. Those clouds look grim and I wouldn’t waste my shoes.

Tara Flynn, actress, comedian and writer - she has also been a campaigner for reproductive rights and the repeal of Ireland's 8th amendment.

Taranoia podcast, wherever you get your podcasts

www.taraflynn.ie

Dear President Trump,

Like all small countries, Ireland appreciates the need for a civil framework for the conduct of international relations, irrespective of the character of the Government or leader with whom one is dealing. Otherwise, we would find ourselves in a world where might was right and the strong could bully the weak. The dangers in today’s world, where thuggish nationalism is on the rise, are particularly obvious.

Ireland owes much to the US, not least because it offered a home to generations of our emigrants. Any visiting president from that country, representing that welcome in his very office, will be treated with courtesy. This must be so, even if an actual incumbent might stand for very different values. But let it also be clear that ordinary Irish citizens will exercise their right to express their views of an individual who has done more than most to bring that office into disrepute.

Yours sincerely,

Piaras Mac Éinrí, lecturer in Migration Studies Department of Geography,  University College Cork

Dear President Trump,

When you visit Ireland you will meet many NUJ members.

Don’t be surprised if Irish reporters or photographers are less deferential than you may wish or if they undermine attempts to stage-manage media opportunities.

You will be accorded respect, of course, and we expect the same from you.

Like so many colleagues around the world, I have been shocked by your relentless public attacks on journalists.

I want to take this opportunity to call on you to end your war on the media. You have helped create a climate of fear and given licence to others to attack media workers.

Journalists are not the enemies of democracy. It is our function to speak truth to power.

It is only when journalists are bullied into silence that tyranny flourishes.

Our own president, Michael D Higgins, is very fond of quoting the injunction of a Welsh media commentator Raymond Williams: Journalists should always “be the arrow, not the target”.

I hope you don’t mind me suggesting that you reflect on that quotation.

Séamus Dooley, Irish secretary, National Union of Journalists, UK and Ireland

Dear President Trump,

We would like to welcome you to Ireland. Ireland is the land of 100,000 welcomes after all. But alas, we don’t have a single solitary ‘fáilte romhat’ for you.

Why? Because we are an organisation that is fundamentally opposed to racism, bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia, environmental destruction, war and imperialism – and you are someone who is happy to wallow in the politics of all of these, ‘like a pig in shite’ as we say here.

We are also opposed to the brutally oppressive regime the Apartheid State of Israel has imposed upon the Palestinian people – and this is a regime you wholeheartedly support, enable and, indeed, fund with US taxpayers’ money (so much for less taxes!).

Somehow, against all odds, you managed to find yourself stumbling into the position of most powerful political leader on the planet – helped in no small part by the ineptitude of the Democrats.

Since assuming power, your administration has become a clear and present danger to the survival of our planet and everyone on it.

Thus, we have one simple request – can you do the whole world a favour and just please go back to being a failing businessman and C-list celebrity? Go raibh míle maith agat!

Yours etc,

The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Dear Donald Trump,

Your visit is a valuable way for us to highlight the differences and similarities in treatment of sex workers in both our countries. In Ireland and the US, sex workers are seeing the rise of ideologies and the passing of laws that are steeped in xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment, and trafficking is conflated with migrant sex work in both countries.

In Ireland this would be the Sexual Offenses Act 2017, which criminalises sex workers sharing a premise and results in racially-targeted brothel raids, leading to deportations and pushing migrant workers deeper into poverty and susceptibility to exploitation.

In America, the SESTA/FOSTA law criminalises any advertising of sex work; this has resulted in the most vulnerable sex workers resorting to working on the street or going back to pimps.

There are attacks on bodily autonomy in the US currently, as we see the rampant shut down of abortion services. It reminds us in Ireland that the success of the Repeal campaign is precarious, and that we must fight not only for legal abortion in the North, but also we need to ensure that society understands that sex workers are in the direct lineage of people fighting for our right to our bodily autonomy.

Our health, safety and bodily autonomy are put in danger by policies such as yours.

SWAI Sex Workers Alliance Ireland

Dear President Trump,

As the largest national women’s organisation in Ireland, representing more than 180 groups across the country, we are supporting the protest on the occasion of your visit to Ireland. We are making a public statement against the current US administration’s complete disregard for women’s rights and human rights, in the US and globally.

By supporting the protest, we are expressing our solidarity with women’s and human rights organisations in the US who are seriously affected by the current rollback on rights, in particular in relation to women’s reproductive rights and LGBT+ rights.

As a key global influencer, the US is actively working to undermine our international human rights structure at UN level. Instead of leading by example, the US has failed to pay its UN membership fee, thus destabilising crucial international human rights systems.

The US is also actively supporting measures that threaten women’s safety and rights in conflict zones. In particular, the US was closely involved in the UN Security Council’s failure to pass a resolution which would respect women’s right to autonomy over their own bodies, including as survivors of sexual violence in conflict.

For a country to be great, it must uphold the principles of equality and human rights.

Orla O’Connor, Director of National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI)

Dear President Trump,

As President you have approved the use of torture; you and your Government continue to wage unjustified wars of aggression in breach of the UN Charter; you are waging economic war on the people of Venezuela; you have personally approved US special forces attacks, and targeted assassinations in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere in breach of international and national laws; you and your Government have supported the Israeli Government in its persecution of the Palestinian people, and recognised the illegal Israeli annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights; your policies and actions are destroying our living environment and causing catastrophic climate change; you have supported the Saudi Arabian Government in its genocidal war against the people of Yemen, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Yemeni people including tens of thousands of children who are being starved to death. This latter war crime is especially offensive to the people of Ireland who suffered a similar genocidal famine in the past.

For all these reasons & the pursuit of Julian Assange, you are not welcome in Ireland.

Clare Daly TD

Dear Mr. Trump,

You are not welcome in Ireland. You do not deserve the respect or welcome that our Taoiseach suggested.

At a time when women are globally standing up for their rights, you have boasted about sexually assaulting women. You have openly referred to women as pigs, dogs and slobs. Your attitude towards and treatment of women is disgusting, and should not be tolerated.

As the leader of the USA, you have the power to set global trends in your toxic stance on human rights, climate change denial and anti-immigration policies. This is terrifying and dangerous to the entire world. The power you hold should not belong to you.

You should never have been invited here, as the people of Ireland do not welcome you. While Leo Varadkar may be our 'leader', he is not our voice. He does not speak for us, nor do you speak for America.

Your denial of climate change, removal of environment protection in America proves that you're determined to destroy this planet. Not only are you dangerous to women; but to the future of humanity.

For these reasons, you are in no way welcome in Ireland.

Sincerely,

Milly Burke Cunningham, Irish Feminist Network

Dear President Trump,

One of our core goals as representative body of more than 374,000 students across the island of Ireland is in the defence and promotion of all democratic and human rights, and we endeavour to show solidarity to those whose human rights are being violated – and in this regard, you tick quite a devastating number of boxes.

The students of Ireland will not stand for sexist, homophobic and racist leadership, rhetoric and incitement to hatred, nor do we stand for the facilitation or laudation of someone who denies the global climate change emergency, never mind the need for urgent action, or someone who sets more value on making pals with fascists and dictators or visiting your golf course than serving the people who need support most in own country and outside of it.

Your position on guns is abominable, let’s just be honest. Students and young people across the United States are dying. You are doing nothing but propose that their teachers carry guns themselves. Cop on. You are not protecting your students, you are putting them in harm's way every day that you sit in office.

The Union of Students in Ireland stands up proudly against racism, xenophobia, misogyny, transphobia and homophobia. We are known as the island of a thousand welcomes, but for you - we have none.

Síona Cahill, president Union of Students in Ireland

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