herald

Monday 5 December 2016

Are we about to get a visit from Trump and Pope Francis?

President-elect Donald Trump spoke with Enda Kenny and may follow Pope Francis in visiting Ireland
President-elect Donald Trump spoke with Enda Kenny and may follow Pope Francis in visiting Ireland

He may have faced criticism in the Dail, but Donald Trump is still planning a visit to Ireland.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed yesterday that the president-elect told him he is planning a trip.

The Fine Gael leader is also due to meet with the Pope next week and will extend an invitation to him to visit Ireland as well.

Mr Kenny has been forced to backtrack on previous remarks during the presidential election when he said that comments made by Mr Trump were "racist" and "dangerous".

In the wake of the election result, he rolled back, insisting the comments were made in "the heat of battle".

Now he has revealed further details about his 10-minute call with the president-elect.

"He actually said himself that he hoped to visit Ireland some time, so let's see when the administration takes up office what his schedule might be," he said.

"I don't have any indication of his coming at an early date."

Mr Kenny was also chall- enged on why he did not criticise some of the rhetoric from Mr Trump during the bitter US presidential campaign.

He said that was not the purpose of the call.

"This is the reality of dealing with a new regime and new administration taking up office in the United States," he said. "My conversation, both with the president-elect and the vice president-elect, was on the basis of the relationship of this country with the United States."

Mr Kenny confirmed he is to meet Pope Francis in the Vatican on Monday.

He will tell the Pontiff of his support for the Irish Catholic bishops' invitation for Pope Francis to visit Ireland in 2018 for the World Meeting of Families which is to be held in Dublin.

Mr Kenny and the Pope are also expected to discuss the Euro- pean Union and migration, among other topics.

Support

The Taoiseach will tell Francis that all the courtesies of a state visit would be accorded, should he come here.

"The Taoiseach will also take the opportunity to personally welcome the decision by Pope Francis to hold the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in August 2018," a government official said.

"He will express the full support of the Government for the invitation by the Irish Bishops Conference to Pope Francis to visit Ireland in the context of that meeting, and assure the Pope that the normal state courtesies and support will be extended to him if he decides to come to Ireland."

Mr Kenny said yesterday that he hopes to still be Taoiseach when the Pope visits.

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