America’s 45th president Donal Trump is clearly the most polarising figure to assume the most important position in world politics. Donald Trump appears oblivious to the anxiety being felt by millions of people across the globe. Since his inauguration Trump has encouraged Brexit, attacked the press, advocated torture, proposed a wall with Mexico and seems set on tearing up international trade agreements.
An outspoke critic of the European Union, he mistakenly blamed the EU for a decision made by Clare County Council. It should come as no surprise that even a mild-mannered individual like Clare-based Senator Martin Conway is turning on the US President. In Seanad Éireann last week Conway articulated what many are feeling. “I have been watching newly-elected President Trump. Sometimes I wonder if it is a nightmare I will wake up from or is it reality. Unfortunately, it is very real.”
Such is his concern that Senator Conway believes that it is not appropriate to allow the US military “free access to Shannon Airport” and he has now called for “extreme inspections of military planes using Shannon”. He told Seanad Éireann, “Now that the President has made clear that certain forms of torture are quite appropriate in his view and that he would endorse their use, we need to have extreme inspections of military planes using Shannon. The time is appropriate to have a debate on whether it is appropriate for the US military to use Shannon.”
Conway added, “We have always prided ourselves on our neutrality. I do not accept the business case for the US military using Shannon. So be it if it goes to Germany or some other country with its business”. He added, “with the present leadership in America I would be quite happy to see that happen.” Senator Conway has asked the authorities to ensure that all US military flights are subjected to extreme inspections to ensure no rendition is taking place.
President Trump invited controversy with an executive order suspending new refugee admissions for 120 days, an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria and a 90-day ban on citizens from seven other countries. In Ireland attention turned to the operation of US pre-clearance at Shannon and Dublin airports. In a joint statement, seven human rights organisations called on the Irish Government to “strongly and categorically” condemn President Trump’s executive order.”
The statement continued, “We express collective concern that the operation of US pre-clearance at Dublin and Shannon Airports may result in individual Gardaí and immigration officials providing assistance to US pre-clearance officials in implementing the executive order.”
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has ordered a “complete review” of US pre-clearance operations. He told a press conference, “In respect of the policy introduced by the American government, I disagree with it. I will obviously say that to the president and vice president when I meet with them.”
There is a view that passengers flying to the US should not be inconvenienced at pre-clearance facilities. Senator Paul Coffey told the Seanad that abandoning pre-clearance, “will not achieve what I think we all wish for in respect of our shared concerns regarding immigration.”
His Fine Gael colleague Senator Jerry Buttimer described President Trump’s executive order banning refugees as, “an extraordinary decision, irrespective of one’s political ideology. To see fear and panic on the faces of refugees or ordinary American citizens trying to go about their daily lives last weekend was appalling. Preventing people from entering the United States because of religious faith is un-American. It does not stand with the American values many of us share. It is not a policy that I share. What is extraordinary is that rather than making it the United States of America, the President, Donald Trump, is dividing people.”