Donald Trump arranged a meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny within hours of being elected the 45th president of the United States.
It was confirmed during a phone call between the two late on Wednesday night.
Mr Kenny congratulated the president-elect on his shock win, and said that the Taoiseach’s traditional St Patrick’s Day visit to Washington next year would go ahead.
The confirmation of the trip, next March, will reassure nervous investors, Irish-Americans, and the public about Ireland’s relations with the White House, especially given previous comments by Mr Kenny that Mr Trump’s views were “racist and dangerous”.
Mr Kenny had been criticised for rushing to congratulate the Republican candidate on his win, after a bruising 17-month election campaign in the US.
But during the 10-minute call with the president elect, Mr Kenny raised several issues that have been to the forefront of concerns, even during the Obama administration.
These included the North’s peace process and the rights of Irish emigrants. Mr Kenny explained: “He was looking forward to doing business with Ireland and I asked him specifically about Patrick’s Day and he’s looking forward to continuing that tradition over many years,” he said.
The March visit looks set to be the first occasion when the two leaders will meet, as a US trade mission involving Mr Kenny at the end of this month does not include a stop in Washington.
Mr Kenny added: “And, obviously, we’d have a lot of discussion about the details that are important for us, as pointed out yesterday in my letter to him and to the vice-president, the importance of, maybe, putting immigration back on the administration’s budget, Northern Ireland, the peace process, and so on.” The brief call with the 70-year-old president elect came before the plight of tens of thousands of undocumented Irish in the US was raised in the Dail yesterday. Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said the Government had a two-pronged approach to the concern, trying to regularise the status of the undocumented and trying to get a quota for legal Irish emigrants.
While the make-up of Mr Trump’s administration, and his policies in office, may not be known for a number of weeks, or even months, it is expected the Government will push the issue of Irish emigrants with members of the US congress in Washington.
A government source said: “It’s always popular [for a president] to court the Irish base there.” Departments here will also closely watch what policies the Trump administration sets out on corporate taxation, which may alter the position of US multinationals here.
Any move to radically alter international trade deals or defence commitments, as pledged by Mr Trump during his campaign, could also impact on the global economy and security.
Housing Minister Simon Coveney said the St Patrick’s Day invitation to the White House was a reassurance that business with the US would continue.
“What we need to do, now, is judge the president-elect on his comments as president-elect.”
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