Criticism of 'warm welcome' invite to Northern Ireland for Trump

The invite was penned by Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness

Criticism of 'warm welcome' invite to Northern Ireland for Trump

Arlene Foster (left) and Martin McGuinness at a press conference of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) in Dublin Castle | Image: RollingNews.ie

There are calls for an invitation extended to US President Donald Trump to visit Northern Ireland to be rescinded.

The invite was penned by the then-First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness after his election victory, but before Stormont elections were called.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has called on Sinn Féin’s new Northern leader, Michelle O’Neill, to publicly state where she stands on the issue.

In the invite a ‘warm welcome’ is promised to President Trump.

But Mr Eastwood says: “The story of this island and of the Irish people is one of travel and traversing the world. Integrating and influencing communities across the globe.

“Our values are in distinct opposition to those displayed by Donald Trump.

“His methods of designed discrimination on the basis of religion are a throwback to sectarian division that should be opposed at every opportunity.

“It is astounding that the former First and deputy First Ministers offered Trump a warm welcome here, that they are eager to appease a man of his character and sell out their principles so quickly.

“Sinn Féin’s new Northern leader should now break from this tacit endorsement of Trump in return for the crumbs from his table and rescind this invitation.”

While People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett also expressed disappointment at the move.

He said the invite “flew in the face of statements made in the south by the Sinn Fein leadership about Trump”.

Mr Boyd Barrett added: “I am totally shocked and disappointed with the news that Martin McGuinness sent this fawning letter to Donald Trump knowing his vile agenda of racism, hatred, sexism and prejudice.

“It is really quite hard to understand in the South Sinn Fein’s senior TDs and members of their leadership have been making statements and condemning Trump’s racist and dangerous policies and yet at the same time their most senior representative in the North invited Trump to Ireland.

The letter, dated November 9th 2016 and published in The Impartial Reporter, says: "We are writing to offer our personal congratulations and those of all the people we represent on your election as the 45th President of the United States of America.

"We are a small region but we are fortunate to have strong historical, economic and political ties to the United States.

"Some of those links predate the War of Independence and we can boast that no fewer than seventeen of your predecessors had Scots-Irish heritage."

It concludes: "We wish you every success in your new role and we extend an invitation to visit Northern Ireland. You can be assured of a warm welcome.” 

While an invitation to Mr Trump for a state visit to the UK is continuing to meet opposition.