Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has hit out at US presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s comments in the wake of the Orlando massacre, describing them as “crass” and “tasteless”.
However, he said that should Mr Trump become US president, he and other Irish ministers would have to deal with him in the national interest.
Mr Varadkar, Ireland’s first openly gay Cabinet minister, spoke of his shock at the mass shooting at a gay nightclub, but condemned Mr Trump’s comments on Twitter, which suggested his call for a ban on Muslims was justified.
Mr Trump, who is the Republican presidential candidate, said: “What has happened in Orlando is just the beginning. Our leadership is weak and ineffective. I called it and asked for the ban. Must be tough.”
Mr Varadkar said Mr Trump’s comments were “very disappointing”.
“In relation to Mr Trump’s contribution, I have to say I thought it was pretty crass, I thought it was tasteless and it’s unfortunate to see anyone from any political perspective trying to exploit really an event like this to make out somehow that they got it right all along. It’s very disappointing to see that,” the minister said.
Mr Varadkar went on to say that, in politics, you have to meet and deal with leaders whose views do not coincide with your own.
“One thing I would say and this is the ‘real-politik’ of these things, if somebody is the elected leader of one country it is the norm that politicians would meet them and there are lots of leaders, elected and non-elected from countries all over the world who have done much worse than Donald Trump has ever said, and we do meet them, because we have to,” he said.
“That’s the way we make sure we protect the interests of our citizens.”
When asked which countries have done worse, Mr Varadkar cited the case of Egypt and Ireland’s ongoing attempts to have Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa released from custody by Cairo.
“Most obviously, very regularly Irish politicians are meeting politicians from Egypt about the Halawa case,” he said. “In order to get things done, you have to meet them.”
Mr Varadkar said his sympathies were with the families of those who perished in the massacre, saying Ireland stands in solidarity with America at a difficult time.
“My thoughts and prayers are of course with the people who lost their lives, and who have been injured and their families and friends,” Mr Varadkar said.
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