On Thursday, the Prime Minister of Ireland, Enda Kenny, joined President Trump for the annual Friends of Ireland luncheon to mark St. Patrick’s Day. Once again, it appears the President failed to do his homework.
Despite claiming to “Love Ireland” and owning a golf course on the West Coast of the Emerald Isle, the president appeared to know nothing about their politics or our relationship with them. The NY Times described the awkward scene:
Mr. Trump found himself in a roomful of kelly-green-clad lawmakers in the Capitol for the Friends of Ireland luncheon, being lectured by Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister, or taoiseach (pronounced THEE-shakh), about the virtues of America’s immigrant legacy and the contributions that immigrants had made to the country.
“There are millions out there who want to play their part for America — if you like, who want to make America great,” he said, shooting Mr. Trump a pointed gaze as he appropriated the president’s campaign slogan. “You heard that before?” he said, to nervous titters.
In Washington, Mr. Kenny tried to modulate his criticism, saying it was not directed at Mr. Trump, but at his words. At the lunch Thursday, he straddled a line between being a polite guest and the bearer of a message.
Ireland does not love Trump
It is widely known that the United States president is not at all popular in Ireland. Many people even asked Kenny to skip this year’s Friends of Ireland luncheon, as a protest for the immigration issue. While Kenny stayed away from any discussion of Trump’s travel ban, he did have some stern words regarding the administration’s stance on illegal immigrants.
He stuck to the issue that has long preoccupied Irish officials: the estimated 50,000 Irish who are living in the United States illegally, and who are at risk of being deported if Mr. Trump delivers on his campaign pledge to round up undocumented immigrants.
“We would like this to be sorted,” Mr. Kenny said, calling for these people to be given a path to citizenship. “It would remove a burden of so many that they could now stand in the light and say, ‘Now I’m free to contribute to America as I know I can.’ That’s what people want.”
“All they want is the opportunity to be free,” he added, choking up momentarily.
This year’s visit was a sharp contrast to past year’s. President Obama enjoyed an easy relationship with the Kenny and luncheons were a cause to celebrate.
For his part, Mr. Trump tried to keep things light. But in welcoming Mr. Kenny, he recited what he said was an Irish proverb that speaks to the fickleness of human relations.
“Always remember to forget the friends that proved untrue,” Mr. Trump said, “But never forget to remember those who have stuck by you.”
Not only was it an embarrassing encounter but it also gave life to a tweet storm pointing out that his “proverb” was actually a line from a poem written by Nigerian poet Albashir Adam Alhassan.
No doubt there is at least one speech writer who got to hear Trump utter his famous line: “You’re FIRED.”
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