Taoiseach Leo Varadkar dropped quite the diplomatic clanger in Washington last week when he ill-advisedly brought up his apparent intervention on a wind farm proposal that had been planned near the Clare golf course owned by Donald Trump.
During the St Patrick’s Day lunch at Capitol Hill, Mr Varadkar recalled receiving a call from then ‘Citizen Trump’ who referred to the “problem” a proposed wind farm would have on the billionaire’s business hotel and golf club at Doonbeg.
The Taoiseach added: “So I endeavoured to do what I could do about it and I rang the (Clare) County Council and inquired about the planning permission and subsequently the planning permission was declined and the wind farm was never built.”
Mr Varadkar corrected the record on Friday last, confirming that he had in fact emailed Fáilte Ireland about the proposal, as opposed to the call he’d claimed he’d made 24 hours previously.
Wind farms, like everything else, are subject to proper planning. So it was deeply disappointing to hear Mr Varadkar speak about protecting the landscape from windfarms, the intent of which is to create clean energy and stave off the worst effects of climate change deep into this century and beyond.
The Taoiseach’s quip was made just weeks after he appeared at the European Parliament to express disappointment with Ireland not meeting its emission reduction targets. He made the case that he and his generation of fellow Irish politicians were determined to take Ireland from climate laggard to climate leader.
Moving to a fully renewable energy system is recognised as a key part of the transition Ireland has committed to make in it’s national and international commitments to climate action.
Added to that, his use of a phrase better suited for an informal chat away from recording equipment is not typical of the language we expect from our political leaders during any foreign trip.
It was a far cry from the eloquence of his March 9th speech at the WIT Arena, which we also report on this week and not in the same league when contrasted with Enda Kenny’s powerful speech in Washington 12 months previously.
From a local perspective, it was great to see Ambassador Dan Mulhall and Deputy John Deasy so prominent in Washington last week, in addition to Sean Egan crafting the crystal bowl in which the ceremonial shamrock was presented by Mr Varadkar to President Trump.
One wonders might the President include the South East on his itinerary when he visits next year? Wherever Mr Trump goes, he generates publicity, even if much of it is unwelcome from his own perspective – or of his own doing.
Such a visit would generate protests, but protests are guaranteed pretty much wherever the President visits – and when Ronald Reagan visited Ireland in 1984, current President Michael D Higgins was among the protestors at UCG.
So President Trump would appear to be on his way to Ireland next year, just in time for some soft focus ‘old country’ coverage he’d be keen to push to Irish-American Republicans ahead of the 2020 campaign. Leo Varadkar will go to the country well before then.