Taoiseach has opportunity to build a "strong and close relationship" with Trump - Coveney

Housing Minster says the relationship between Ireland and the office of the US President is "hugely important"

Taoiseach has opportunity to build a "strong and close relationship" with Trump - Coveney

Simon Coveney speaks to the media in Dublin 07/04/2016. Image: Brian Lawless PA Archive/PA Images

A cabinet minister has welcomed Donald Trump’s invitation for the Taoiseach to join him at the White House on St Patrick’s Day.

Housing Minister, Simon Coveney said yesterday’s election result had “concerned a lot of people” but said it is now time to move on from some of the comments Mr Trump made during the campaign:

Minister Coveney said the Taoiseach’s invite was “very important” and can serve as “a reassurance for some people that normal relations with the US can continue.”

“A lot of what was said during this presidential campaign was very bitter, it was very nasty and it concerned a lot of people,” he said.

“I don’t think people will forget that, but the United States have made a decision to elect a new president.

“I think we have to respect that. Just like we have to respect and accept the decision of the UK to vote for Brexit - which many Irish people don’t agree with.”

He said today’s reports suggest the future American President is keen to “maintain a very strong and close relationship with Ireland and the office of Taoiseach.”

“I think that is a very good sign and I hope we can build on that,” he said.

The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny came in for criticism yesterday when it emerged he had written to Mr Trump to congratulate him “on behalf of the people of Ireland.”

Independent TD Mick Barry, said the election will see a “racist, sexist, bigoted billionaire in the White House” and warned Mr Kenny he was not "offering those congratulations in my name."

However many of Deputy Barry's opposition colleagues - including Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin - were quick to echo Mr Kenny’s comments in the Dáil.

Minister Coveney said he does not believe Deputy Barry's style of thinking, "will get us anywhere."

“The relationship we have with the US is such an important one that really we need to focus on building on positives now rather than looking backwards,” he said.