Enda Kenny: ‘I’ll tell Trump why his views are racist’

Taoiseach ‘would have no difficulty’ meeting US presidential candidate during his visit to Ireland

US presidential candidate Donald Trump is welcome to Ireland — but Taoiseach Enda Kenny will tell him why he thinks Trump’s comments are racist if the two meet.

Ahead of the US Republican candidate’s visit to the West of Ireland later this month, Mr Kenny said yesterday that he would consider any request to meet the billionaire businessman.

But he stood over comments he made recently in the Dáil, where he said some of Mr Trump’s remarks were “racist” and “dangerous”.

He said he had so far had no communication from Mr Trump or any of his officials, but added: “He’d be very welcome to come to Ireland.

“If I have any information or receive a request, I’ll respond to that.

“I would have no difficulty in meeting Donald Trump, but as I say, I’ve never met the man, I’ve never spoken to him.”

Asked if he would then outline to Mr Trump why his views are racist, he said: “Certainly. I’d be very happy to.

“I’ve been very clear that some of the comments that I have made of Donald Trump in the past 18 months have been what I described in the Dáil. And I’m not the only one who has said that. It’s nothing personal about him and his character but his comments in some areas have been as I describe them.”

There is rising opposition to the arrival of the businessman, who is set to visit his luxury golf course in Co Clare at the end of the month. Several political groups in the Dáil say they are involved in arranging a protest. However, the Government notes that Mr Trump is making the visit in a private capacity so there is no obligation on ministers or the Taoiseach to meet the White House candidate.

Elsewhere, Mr Kenny refused to comment on the issue of his leadership or when he might step down. Mr Kenny has publicly said he will not seek a third term as Taoiseach. However, he did categorically rule out running for the position of president when the next potential election for the Áras comes up in 2018.

He indicated that he has no interest in running for the role. He also refused to comment on recent remarks by a Cabinet minister that President Michael D Higgins would get “cross-party support” to run again.

Mr Kenny revealed, despite public opinion to the contrary, that newly-appointed senator and former minister James Reilly is not the party’s deputy leader. Mr Kenny said he will announce Fine Gael’s deputy leader in “due course”.

He said Fine Gael wanted to win back Dáil seats in Leitrim, Longford, and Tipperary, among other places.

Mr Kenny said he has had formal bilateral meetings with 10 ministers about their own priorities.

Asked about his future, he said he had no other thoughts on his mind other than completing a very heavy Programme for Government.

He said homelessness is also a real priority and a draft strategy is expected by the end of the month on this.

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