Trump is a vain, thin-skinned bully who will take offence if Enda gives him anything less than the full Leprechaun plámás. If we offer him even the mildest criticism, he will go ballistic. So we might as well go for broke, writes Donal O'Keeffe

If Enda Kenny is true to his word and does – as he has promised – take the new US president to task when he goes to the White House this St Patrick's Day, he needs, as former President Robinson said, to stand up to the bully.

Sure, Enda condemned previously Trump's campaign comments as "racist" and "dangerous" but that was around the time the New York Times was giving Trump an 8% chance of being president.

There isn't another country in the world guaranteed an annual bi-lateral meeting with the president of the United States. It's a tradition with roots which date back to 1952, when the Irish ambassador to the US, John J Hearne, sent a small box of shamrock to President Harry Truman. 

But tiny though we are, if our unique access is to mean anything, the role of a friend is surely to offer counsel in a time of crisis.

(As was suggested to me on Twitter, maybe we should send Enda to Berlin, tell the Americans they're getting an upgrade and send President Higgins to the White House in full fire-breathing mode. Remember what he said to right-wing American pundit Michael Graham?

Imagine what Michael D would call Trump.

Never happen, I know.)

Some Neville Chamberlains say we shouldn't antagonise Trump, lest he target American companies based here. Well, he's been Trumping about them since the election campaign. He's coming after us no matter what.

Others say we shouldn't antagonise Trump lest he go after the 50,000 'undocumented Irish'.

Now, I have huge sympathy for anyone living in fear of deportation, but I love that we Irish don't own to being illegal immigrants, even as asylum seekers here endure years of boredom and depression in the purgatory of Direct Provision until we grudgingly accept that they were refugees all along.

Sorry to break this to you 'undocumented Irish', but you're illegal immigrants. The only thing you have in your favour is you're white and culturally-Christian. Small wonder Joe Duffy is never short of Irish-American voices lauding Trump on Liveline.

The Taoiseach should tell President Trump that the majority of Irish people are outraged by his Muslim ban, by his fostering a culture of intolerance and hatred and by his generally making us all think about the end of the world like we haven't done since Reagan was playing chicken with the Soviets.

Enda says he will voice publicly his misgivings to Trump "both before, and then" but we all know how this will be played.

This will be the same as with China. A formulaic mention of human rights in the middle of the pleasantries, a nod and a wink and business as usual.

"As my old parish priest always said, the Chinese. A great bunch of lads. Ha ha. And I suppose while ye're here I should say 'human rights'. Ha ha. Now, have ye tried the Ferrero Rocher?"

(Followed by a smile from the Chinese as they whisper in Mandarin "Isn't his hair a grand natural colour, all the same?")

Except here's the thing: Trump isn't the Chinese.

Anything less than the Full Leprechaun from Enda, and Trump will likely go doolally. He hung up on the Australian prime minister and Australia is a much bigger fish than Ireland. The thing to remember here is that Trump isn't a politician. Trump doesn't understand how politics works. He doesn't understand how diplomacy works. He doesn't understand how nuance works.

Trump is a lifelong bully who has never had a proper job or – apart from his dad – a boss. He's never had – to use an Irish word – to plámás people. He's never had to persuade, flatter or bring people along with him. He won the election because he was on TV and he knows how TV works and he appealed to a mass of angry, disaffected, forgotten voters.

There's one slim consolation here: assuming we don't all die in nuclear fire between here and 2020, perhaps we may be spared in future the witless notions of those who think countries should be run by businessmen.

Not, of course, that self-acclaimed businessman (and multiple bankrupt) Donald Trump actually is running America like a business. No, rather he's firing off executive orders like a tinpot Generalissimo who's just been told the rebels are storming the South Lawn.

On RTÉ's News At One on Monday, David Frum, George W Bush's former speechwriter and a conservative pundit who is no fan of Donald Trump, offered some depressing advice to Enda Kenny ahead of his White House visit.

"For the sake of Ireland, he has to go and he has to flatter this president outrageously and when the bile is rising in your stomach and you feel like you just cannot say another word without shame, that's the moment when you're coming to the vicinity of the amount of flattering you need to deliver."

The Full Leprechaun, basically. I dunno about you, but I'd rather we were all eating grass again than see our Taoiseach flatter that racist misogynistic sociopath. 

If Kenny really does have a go at Trump – and he should – even if it's in a meaningless formula of words, Trump will almost certainly take huge exception.

So Enda needs to meet Trump and he needs to remember Cloyne Report Enda. That was Kenny's finest hour, when he stood up for victims and tore strips off the Catholic Church. It will be interesting to see if Kenny has the same courage in the face of a much more powerful and far less rational adversary.

Look, we're screwed either way. Trump is coming after our FDI and illegals regardless. Enda might as well look Orange Hitler in his beady little eyes and speak truth to power.

So, Enda, either stand up to the bully or stay home.

  • Aileen Walshe

    Brilliant article. I lived in Fermoy for ten years. Proud of it . I think that Endas speech should be prewritten and at least we could know what he’s saying on our behalf. Archbishop Martin was right- if he can give it to the Vatican he can give it to this antiChrist. Thing is that it was the popular thing to do at the time- now its sin fein- and to hell with the rest of the human race. That’s what I hate about my country- everybody must love us or God help them. While we don’t give a damn about anyone outside our island. Rant over.