Reports of row over Trump’s Ireland visit exaggerated – Coveney
Ireland and the US are not arguing over where President Donald Trump might meet the Taoiseach if he visits, the country’s deputy premier has insisted.
Simon Coveney said reports of a stand-off over locations were exaggerated and not true.
There has been expectation that President Trump will visit Ireland on June 5 as part of his trip to Europe.
The anticipated stop would come at the end of his state visit to the UK and before he attends D-Day commemorations in France.
But with official confirmation still awaited from the White House, reports have emerged that officials are at odds on where Mr Trump might meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
The president’s visit to the island is set to be largely private, with Mr Trump expected to base himself at the golf resort he owns in Doonbeg, Co Clare.
Rumours of a disagreement focus on whether a meeting with Mr Varadkar would take place on Mr Trump’s property at Doonbeg – the president’s apparent preference – or on more neutral ground.
It has been reported that the Irish authorities would prefer the nearby Dromoland Castle.
Mr Coveney responded on Sunday to the recent media reports.
“What I can say is that a lot of what you have been reading in newspapers in the last few days is a total exaggeration and in some cases not true,” he told RTE’s This Week programme.
“Let me just reassure people there’s no row, that’s the first thing, and there’s certainly no row over Doonbeg versus other locations.
“The reason why there has been delay here and uncertainty is that the US are essentially working out the president’s visit to the EU, what’s going to be a private element of that visit and what will be very public.
“And in that context they’re looking at Ireland.
“We have been talking to them about that to make sure that if they do decide to come to Ireland, or if the president decides to come to Ireland, that it works.”
Mr Coveney said it would not be appropriate for him to confirm a visit before an announcement was made by the US administration.
“That’s what protocol determines and I expect we’ll get clarity on that in the next couple of days,” he added.
Asked if Mr Trump would be a welcome visitor, Mr Coveney said: “I think the president of the United States of America should always be welcomed in Ireland if he wants to come here.
“It’s a very significant office in itself, there are nearly 40 million Irish-Americans, the relationship between the US and Ireland is a very close one on many, many levels.”
Mr Coveney said Ireland’s incumbent taoiseach had always been welcomed in Washington, regardless of who that had been or their policies.
“We need to return that courtesy,” he said.
“It would be no secret that many of the foreign policy initiatives that the US have taken under this president are decisions that I would be uncomfortable with and the government would be uncomfortable with.”