President Michael D Higgins has lashed out at Donald Trump’s “regressive and pernicious” record on climate change as he arrives in Ireland today. Speaking on the eve of Mr Trump’s visit to his Doonbeg resort in Co Clare, Mr Higgins strongly urged the US to reconsider the decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is expected to raise a number of issues including trade, US support for the North, immigration, and Brexit when he meets the US president after he touches down in Shannon around 5pm today.
Protesters are expected to gather in both Dublin and Shannon during the US president’s two-day visit here, following similar protest events in London which coincided with Mr Trump’s meeting with UK prime minister Theresa May yesterday.
Finian McGrath, Independent Alliance minister of state for disability, said he would be taking part in the Stop Trump Ireland coalition protest in Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance tomorrow.
Mr McGrath said:
I have major problems in relation to his policies both national and international, also in relation to his attitude to people with disabilities, so I will be making my views known on Thursday
A petition of 100,000 signatures will also be delivered to the Doonbeg hotel and golf resort by Friends of the Irish Environment, who oppose the construction of a coastal defence at the golf course.
Speaking at the European Federation of Public Service Unions annual congress, President Higgins said there is now a great opportunity to push for fair, ambitious, and binding international agreements on greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.
Taking direct aim at Mr Trump, the President said: “While the EU has a set of binding emissions targets for 2020 and 2030, we must now plan for full decarbonisation of our European economies by 2050, encouraging the rest of the world to follow suit, and urging in the strongest possible terms the USA to reconsider its regressive and pernicious decision to leave the global Paris Agreement.”
While Mr Trump will meet the Taoiseach at Shannon Airport, the remainder of his Irish trip will be a private event, and he will be accompanied by his wife Melania as well as other family members. Despite this, there is a massive security presence around his Co Clare resort, and more than 400 White House staff are accompanying the president on his European trip.
Mr Trump is due to attend the D-Day 75th commemoration in Normandy tomorrow, but will return to Doonbeg for another night before returning to Washington on Friday.
He also hopes to get in a round of golf at Doonbeg during his time there. Meanwhile, Mr Trump has insisted everything, including the NHS, must be “on the table” in any trade talks with the US after Britain leaves the EU.
Mr Trump met Ms May in Downing Street yesterday and said a “phenomenal” UK-US deal could potentially triple the volume of trade between the two countries. However, he made clear that there could be no limit to the scope of their discussions.
“I think everything with a trade deal is on the table,” he said. “When you’re dealing in trade, everything is on the table — so NHS or anything else, a lot more than that, but everything will be on the table, absolutely.”
Ms May appeared to be taken aback by his comments, retorting: “The point in making trade deals is of course that both sides negotiate and come to an agreement about what should or should not be in that trade deal for the future.”
Mr Trump’s remarks appeared to fly in the face of assurances by senior British ministers — including foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt and health secretary Matt Hancock — who have said the NHS would never be opened up to US providers.
Following the press conference, Mr Hancock tweeted: “Dear Mr President. The NHS isn’t on the table in trade talks — and never will be. Not on my watch.”