President Michael D. Higgins has condemned Donald Trump’s “regressive and pernicious” stance on climate change as he arrives in Ireland on Wednesday.
Speaking on the eve of Mr Trump’s visit to his Doonbeg resort in Co Clare, in what amounts to a significant intervention, Mr Higgins strongly urged the US to reconsider the decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Thousands of 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 British prime minister Theresa May.
Tanasite Simon Coveney has said he will not be meeting US president Donald Trump on his Irish visit as he has “real work to do” in Belfast, where he will take part in a five-party discussion in Stormont alongside Northern Secretary Karen Bradley in an effort to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland.
Regarding Trump’s views on climate change, Coveney told RTE’s Morning Ireland that he thought that regressive was “a better adjective”, adding that President Higgins got the mood of Irish people “quite well”.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, meanwhile, is expected to raise a number of issues with Trump during their private meetings, including trade, US support for the North, immigration, and Brexit. He will meet the US president after he touches down in Shannon around 5pm on Wednesday.
Finian McGrath, Independent Alliance minister of state for disability, is one of a handful of Irish politicians who have signalled they will take part in demonstrations. Mr McGrath will take part in the Stop Trump Ireland coalition protest in Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance on Thursday.
“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,” he said.
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.
“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,” Higgins said.
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 – with more than 400 White House staff are accompanying the president on his European trip.