Europe

President Trump Ireland visit: Border blip and the blimp

Donald Trump Shannon Airport 6 June Image copyright AFP
Image caption 'I love your country!' - President Trump left the Irish people in no doubt of their place in his affections

Within minutes of touching down at Shannon Airport, US President Donald Trump had declared that he "loves the Irish" .

He said the relationship between the US and Ireland was "as good as it's ever been, maybe better".

How accurate you feel that statement is really depends on what part of the country you were in during President Trump's brief stop-over in the Republic of Ireland this week.

While a couple of hundred protesters gathered outside the airport in County Clare for the president's arrival on Wednesday afternoon, a short drive away in the small village of Doonbeg there was a very different atmosphere.

All the local residents and business people the BBC spoke to were keen to voice their support for President Trump.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionDoonbeg residents and visitors were full of praise for President Trump

Mr Trump's luxury golf resort is only a few miles from Doonbeg and, in peak season, employs 300 people from the local area.

After spending the night there, Mr Trump tweeted: "A big and beautiful day today."

Local publican Tommy Comerford believes that, without the resort, many young people in the area would have emigrated.

"If you haven't young people in an area like this, it will die", he said.

As Doonbeg locals put up star-spangled bunting and American flags in preparation for President Trump to arrive at his hotel, at Shannon Airport he was causing a bit of a stir.

During an impromptu press conference with Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar, he broached the subject of the Irish border and Brexit.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionSeveral thousand people march in the Irish capital to protest against the US president

"With your wall, your border. We have a border situation in the United States and you have one over here, but I hear it's going to work out very well," he said.

Mr Varadkar, sitting just feet away, hastily said that the Irish government wanted to avoid "a border or wall" between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The reality is the issue of the Irish border still looms large over Brexit negotiations - like the Donald Trump baby balloon that loomed large over Dublin city centre on Thursday evening.

The six-metre high blimp, depicting President Trump as a baby in a nappy, has become a prominent feature of many anti-Trump protests that have taken place in London.

Now, it has made its debut in the Irish capital, as several thousand people took part in the "Stand Up to Trump" rally at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin's Parnell Square.

President Trump previously said the balloon had made him feel "unwelcome" when it appeared in London.

Organisers of the Dublin protest said they were hoping its presence there would have a similar effect.

Teenager Ciaran Heussaff held a home-made sign declaring "Trump = climate disaster".

Image copyright PACEMAKER
Image caption Protesters, including former Labour Minister Jan O’Sullivan, at a Peace Camp at the boundary of Shannon Airport

He said he wanted to attend to show that "the youth of Ireland don't support President Trump's policies".

Others were critical of the warm reception that President Trump received in Doonbeg.

Pictures were beamed across the world of the village's main street in full carnival mode, with traditional Irish music and Irish dancing.

There was also footage of two of Mr Trump's sons receiving an enthusiastic welcome in the village's pubs on Wednesday evening as they chatted to locals and poured pints.

Mr Trump didn't make an appearance, but he did meet a group of local schoolchildren half way through a round of golf at his resort before leaving on Friday morning.

Image caption Ciaran Heussaff and his brother, Conall, were among the protesters in Dublin

But there was backlash from some on social media, with one Twitter user suggesting: "Can we partition off Doonbeg?"

For some of the Doonbeg residents, it's not that simple.

Katherine Whelan, who owns the local shop, said that even if she didn't always agree with his policies and style, she would always be grateful for President Trump's investment in the area.

"In rural Ireland there is nothing, everything goes to Dublin. So the Trump resort really has been a lifeline here", she said.

Image caption Doonbeg pub owner Tommy Turbidy said the visit was good for business

Most of the Doonbeg residents said they respected anyone's right to protest, and shrugged off any criticism.

With the eyes of the world on Doonbeg, pub owner Tommy Turbidy said the village was basking in the free publicity.

"Even President Trump would agree, that's just good business," he said.

More on this story