"A good day" for homeland security - Trump defends travel ban

A host of Irish government ministers have voiced concern over President Trump's ban on people from seven Muslim majority countries entering America

"A good day" for homeland security - Trump defends travel ban

US President Donald Trump, 30-01-2017. Image: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The US President has described his ban on people from seven Muslim majority countries entering America as “a very good day” for homeland security.

The move has been widely criticised by human rights campaigners around the world and led to widespread protests over the weekend.

In Ireland, a number of government ministers have expressed their concern over the order with the Minister for Foreign Affairs due to raise the matter with his counterparts in Washington next week.

Speaking this afternoon, President Trump said: “We actually had a very good day yesterday in terms of homeland security; we had to make the move and we decided to make the move.”

As part of the ban, travellers who hold nationality or dual nationality with Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen will not be permitted to enter the US for a period of 90 days.

The order also suspends the entire US Refugee Admissions Programme for 120 days and bans refuges from Syria indefinitely.

White House visit

The Taoiseach has come under increasing pressure to either cancel his planned visit to the White House on St Patrick’s Day - or use it to express Irish concern over the orders.

The Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar said the visit should go ahead but warned it can't be "all smiles and shamrocks."

He urged the Taoiseach to use the opportunity to "raise the concerns and objections that we have a country to some of the policies that are being pursued:"

“Any right-thinking person would be concerned about the effective Muslim ban that President Trump has introduced in recent days.”

“As a government we share the concerns of our European colleagues in that regard,” he said. “The Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan is going to be in Washington next week and this is absolutely something that is going to come up for discussion.”

Earlier, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone questioned the legality of continuing to operate US pre-clearance at Irish airports and said the Taoiseach’s visit should be kept “under review.”

Ms Zappone's stance was backed by an umbrella group of human rights organisations who this afternoon called for the pre-clearance system to be "urgently reviewed." 

“President Trump continues to roll out policies that are highly questionable and in this case, really blocking people’s equality and freedom,” she said.

“These are the kinds of things I would like to see our Taoiseach raise with President Trump.

“It may be useful to do that face to face; that is why I am saying it should be kept under review.”

Ms Zappone has reportedly written to the Taoiseach outlining her concern.

The Minister for Transport, Shane Ross has said no Irish minister could approve of Mr Trump’s policy and the Minister for Education Richard Bruton said he was deeply dismayed by the US decision.

Opposition concerns

Speaking to George Hook on Newstalk's High Noon this afternoon, the Green Party Leader, Eamon Ryan called on the Taoiseach to cancel the trip - warning that gifting Mr Trump the traditional bowl of shamrock - under the current circumstances - sends out the wrong message:

“I think it is really important that we make it clear where we stand,” he said. “I think everything that President Trump has done in the last week [...] is clearly opposed to the values, the international law and spirit of international cooperation that I believe we stand for as a country.”

“I don’t believe there is any way in which we can go and hand over that hugely symbolic moment - all the cultural connection that comes with that [...] and come out of it without actually saying that we stand on Trump’s side.”

The Green Party is due to hold a demonstration against President Trump’s travel ban, his apparent support for torture and his gagging of US climate scientists amongst other issues outside the American Embassy this evening.

The Anti-Austerity Alliance - People Before Profit group have submitted a Dail motion calling on the Taoiseach to cancel the visit calling the Trump order a “nakedly racist travel ban, targeting a number of majority Muslim countries.”