herald

Tuesday 25 September 2018

TDs set to boycott US embassy's July 4 party as 'message' to Trump

Eamon Ryan won’t attend because of Trump’s policies
Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Eamon Ryan won’t attend because of Trump’s policies Pic: Justin Farrelly.

Tonight's annual Fourth of July celebration at the US ambassador's residence will be boycotted by a number of Oireachtas members in protest at President Donald Trump's immigration policies.

A number of elected officials will avoid the event held in the Phoenix Park in response to the separation of children from their families at the US border.

Warned

President Trump, who has yet to appoint an ambassador to Ireland, has since signed an executive order reversing the policy, but experts have warned that reuniting children and their families will be a long and chaotic process.

Up to 2,000 children have yet to be reunited with their families, according to the latest figures.

Charge d'Affaires Reece Smyth will host the Independence Day event, called United We Rock, in the American Ambassador's Residence in the Phoenix Park from 7pm.

Guests will be entertained at a garden cocktail reception, with live music by The US Army Rock Band, The Academic and Sibeal Ni Chasaide.

Green Party TD Eamon Ryan, who is among those who will not attend, said he believed every political gesture, no matter how small, sends a message.

"It's a protest directly relating to the separation of families along the Mexican border," he said.

"The treatment of those children is in breach of all international conventions."

The Dublin Bay South TD said there are many issues he could protest against from the current US administration, but this, in particular, is something "where you just have to take a stand and say that's not acceptable".

"There deserves to be outrage on what he's done on this migrant issue," Mr Ryan added.

Labour senator Aodhan O'Riordain called last month for a boycott of the celebrations, saying the immigration policies seen in the US in recent times are a "step too far".

Mr O'Riordain, who wrote a letter to the embassy outlining his reasons for not attending, said he thought it would be more effective for people to boycott than to attend the event to raise concern with US officials.

"I don't trust many in the main conservative parties to raise it. It doesn't tend to be their style," he said.

Fianna Fail and Fine Gael TDs have free rein to decide on whether or not to attend the celebrations. Niall Collins, Fianna Fail's foreign affairs spokesman, is expected to attend.

Sinn Fein did not respond when asked if it will be boycotting the celebrations.

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