Though it would naturally be denied, there must have been a palpable sense of relief at the highest levels of Government when it was announced yesterday that US President Donald Trump had changed his plans to visit Ireland in November though not definitively.
No matter how it was presented, such a visit would have been the diplomatic engagement from hell. An unhinged president, who, if his tax policies succeed, would suck thousands of jobs from this country, could hardly expect the red carpet that’s usually rolled out, and hopefully will be again, for a visiting US president.
It is difficult, too, to imagine how our Government, especially our Taoiseach and President, could have engaged with Mr Trump in any meaningful way as he has shown nothing but contempt for the values that define and sustain Western democracy. Silence in the face of such malign leadership was simply not an option.
His decision, though welcome, leaves a central question un answered. Can a small country like Ireland ever be in a position to speak truth to power and, in an instance like this, tell a crazytown despot that he is not welcome and that he should stay away?