President Donald Trump’s unofficially planned visit to Ireland in June is reportedly “in doubt” due to the Trump’s insistence that his meeting with Irish leader Leo Varadkar be held at one of the president’s golf courses in the European country.
Varadkar, Ireland’s Taoiseach, or prime minister, is inclined to meet with Trump—but the president, according to The Irish Times, is insisting that any meeting be at his golf resort in Doonbeg, County Clare. If not, the president’s team told Irish officials, Trump will go to one of his resorts in Scotland.
That may also make it easier to avoid official business. Per The Irish Times:
While a trip to Scotland would not involve the president engaging in official activities, given that he will have already met the British prime minister and Queen Elizabeth during his state visit to Britain, a visit to Ireland would necessitate some formal engagement with the Government.
Varadkar and members of the government believe that protocol would be better served by hosting the meeting at a more neutral location, like Dromoland Castle some 50 kilometers away from Doonbeg.
A resort of its own, Dromoland has hosted a number of dignitaries over the years, including then-President George W. Bush in 2004.
That visit may be part of what’s causing Trump’s hesitation to attend meetings at Dromoland. Bush was greeted by thousands of protesters angry about the then-president’s foreign policy priorities.
In comments to The Irish Times, Dromoland manager Mark Nolan said that accommodating the president on short notice would be a challenge, but that he welcomed it.
“Normally speaking, when I was handling the Bush visit planning started approximately four months prior because I had to negotiate with group bookings to relocate or find alternative arrangements for people who were already booked,” said Nolan. “So that timeline doesn’t exist if it is to happen here.”
During a visit to the United Kingdom in July 2018, Trump made a point to avoid protesters in London, going so far as to hold meetings with the queen and Prime Minister Theresa May and to stay at, in the words of The Guardian, “places where protesters [could] be kept out of sight and earshot.”
That may not be an option at Dromoland, especially since Varadkar publicly encouraged his country’s population to protest Trump’s visit if they so wish.
“Protest is allowed,” said Varadkar, “and welcome.”
“I would certainly never criticize anyone for taking part in a protest if that’s the way they wish to express their views,” Varadkar added.
Negotiations about the visit are ongoing between the two countries.