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Head Of Ireland's Green Party Wants Trump Invitation Rescinded


The White House has announced that President Trump will go to Ireland in November. This came as news to people in Ireland, perhaps even to the prime minister. Leo Varadkar told Irish radio the trip came, quote, "out of the blue" but that he will be ready.


PRIME MINISTER LEO VARADKAR: He is the president of America. I know a lot of people dislike him. A lot of people object to him. A lot of people disagree with a lot of his policies, just as I do, in fact. But he is the president of America.

GREENE: Now, other Irish politicians are calling for Ireland to rescind the invitation to Trump, including our next guest Eamon Ryan. He's the head of Ireland's Green Party. He's on the line from Dublin.

Good morning, and welcome.

EAMON RYAN: Good morning, David. Good to be with you.

GREENE: Well, it's nice to have you. I just want to ask - the United States has always been such a close ally to Ireland - and an important ally - why cancel a visit by a U.S. president?

RYAN: We still are close. And protesting against the visit of Donald Trump doesn't undermine, in my mind, the very close relationship. I have cousins in upstate New York, in California, friends in Washington - all over the States. And we have a close connection to the founding principles in the States. That Constitution inspired our constitution. And your First Amendment - the right to assembly, to petition government and to protest - I think, is absolutely right. I think most of my American friends - when I say to them, we're thinking of protesting this thing - well, that's fine. That's what we do. That's part of our democracy, part of the American way. So I don't think America will take it as an insult if we're protesting against the visit of a president.

And I hope and think we can do it in an Irish way. I mean, we're a small country. We tend, in the global stage, not to make enemies, try to make friends, not to be - we don't come from an imperial tradition, the exact opposite. So we tend to kind of take a foreign policy approach which is diplomatic. But I'd have to say, I just think at this moment in time in history, we have an obligation to stand up and say - no, you cannot pull out of the Paris climate agreement, America. That's not right because that affects all of us. That actually threatens my children's future, not just yours.

GREENE: I just want to be clear. You're not calling for this invitation to be rescinded. You're actually calling for protests to send a message while Donald Trump is in Ireland. Is that right? That's an important...

RYAN: Yes.

GREENE: That's an important difference.

RYAN: Yes. Well, there is also a variety of different choices in terms of what are their visits. We traditionally have invited American presidents to speak to our Parliament. I don't think we should be doing that in this case because I think it will be providing that opportunity for the president to outline views that we fundamentally disagree with. I think, similarly, I'd prefer if it was a visit - if he wants to visit his golf course in County Clare, on the west coast of Ireland, that's fine.

But I wouldn't like to see a full state visit. But if that does take place - and the government has to make that call - they have to make the diplomatic choice. If they do, yes, we're saying we have to stand up and protest and, I think, do it in a way which doesn't just feed the division and hatred and divisiveness that kind of seems to be happening at the present time.

GREENE: Yeah, you said you want to do it with an Irish twist. You want to protest with an Irish twist. What does that mean?

RYAN: Well, we have a tradition. I mean, Daniel O'Connell, who was a great Irish constitutional leader - was very close to the American constitutional ideas - he had mass rallies. But they were always peaceful. It can involve humor and involve creative ways. That's - if we got to College Green, which is our meeting place in central Dublin - if we had 50,000 candles lit in silent protest, that would give as strong a message as anything rather than strong or hateful words. I hope it's that type of protest we can do.

GREENE: Eamon Ryan is the head of Ireland's Green Party, talking about protesting President Trump's planned visit to Ireland later this fall.

Thanks so much for joining us.

RYAN: Thank you, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.