Tensions between the Irish and U.S. governments are reportedly heating up over a bureaucratic decision: where to hold a meeting between President Donald Trump and the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar. The White House is apparently insisting to the Irish government that the meeting take place at Trump’s golf course in Doonbeg. The Irish government, meanwhile, is not too keen on that idea. “The Irish government feel that protocol dictates that any event they host for President Trump should be at a venue of their choosing and certainly not at an hotel owned by Trump,” a source told CNN, adding that it was “a bit unseemly” to demand that the meeting take place in a Trump property.
The request wasn’t just an off-the-cuff suggestion either, according to CNN’s source, who said that Trump’s chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, has been insistent on the issue. That led the Irish government to try for a compromise, offering to host a dinner with Trump at a nearby venue and then Varadkar would go to the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel for breakfast. But the White House has yet to respond and has reportedly threatened to shift the president’s trip to Scotland instead.
CNN is not the first to report on tensions between the Irish and U.S. governments ahead of a trip that hasn’t even been publicly confirmed yet. Trump is widely expected to go to Ireland for two nights as part of a visit that will take him to Great Britain and France to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Irish media had earlier reported on the disagreements over the venue, saying it had put Trump’s visit “into doubt.” The Irish government is apparently still optimistic that Trump will go to Ireland but it is facing “complex issues around protocol, and whether it constitutes a private or official visit,” reported the Irish Times.
The potential for conflicts of interest involving a potential state visit at a Trump property are heightened by the fact that the president’s company is seeking approval from Irish regulators on two separate issues, notes the Washington Post. The hotel wants approval to build a rock sea wall as well as permission to expand the number of rooms. If Trump does end up calling the trip off it would mark the second time he will have canceled a planned visit to Ireland.