The Taoiseach’s American Trips

Enda Kenny and Michael Bloomberg.
Enda Kenny and Michael Bloomberg.

By Olivia O’Mahony, Editorial Assistant
February / March 2017

Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrived in the U.S. in November for a three-day trip in which he met with businesses leaders in New York and Silicon Valley to promote Ireland as an investment location in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum. During this visit he delivered an address to the Partnership for New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area Economic Council, and a group of business leaders hosted by Bloomberg chairman Peter Grauer, including former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Kenny’s next scheduled trip to the U.S. is for the annual St. Patrick’s Day “shamrock ceremony,” during which the taoiseach gifts the president of the United States a bowl of shamrocks as a symbol of Irish-American affinity. This year’s trip has been the subject of controversy since the inauguration of Donald J. Trump this January.

Irish political groups such as the Labour Party, Green Party, People Before Profit, and the Anti-Austerity Alliance have urged Kenny to cancel the meeting, while a public petition, “Shamrock for Trump: Not in My Name” has received over 37,000 signatures.

“President Trump does not share our values. Indeed, he is openly hostile to them,” Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin told the Irish Times. “He and his team have made clear that he is unwilling to hear or even listen to discordant voices.”

The shamrock ceremony began in 1952, and it’s unlikely the petitions will affect its continuation this year. The Office of the Taoiseach responded to the criticism by emphasizing the importance of engaging “with the U.S. president and his administration in Washington around the events of St. Patrick’s Day” in order to “maintain the historically strong links between the Irish and American peoples.” ♦

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