It’s his first visit to the Emerald Isle since being sworn in as president, despite having been invited by former Irish Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, back in 2017.
Trump is the eighth president to step out onto Irish soil. His landing will create seismic ripples — literally. It is a presidential ‘hoo-ha’, for want of a better word, with no expenses spared.
Trump’s entourage is never-ending, to the point that it is almost comical. It’s reminiscent of that classic long car journey game for kids: ‘I went to the supermarket, and I bought… a MAGA hat!…’ (and so on). So, when you are ready, let’s play.
When Trump came to Ireland, he bought with him: an escort of over 1000 staff, three helicopters, the famous Beo-VC-25 (Better known as Air Force One) and, of course, ‘The Beast’.
The latter is a car, but it's not just any old car, he's not popping down to Hertz for a car hire like the rest of us. No. The Beast boasts bulletproof windows, thick armoured plating, military-grade satellites, tires that can glide across the roadways with no air in them whatsoever, and a blood bank, matched to Donald Trump's very own ruby nectar as the cherry on top. Yes, the US president drives around with a fridge filled with his own blood.
Tim Harlan alongside many others from the organisation, spent the day watching and waiting for Trump’s cohort to land at Shannon Airport. Rather than waving flags of stars and stripes, like many of the residents of nearby Doonbeg, they’re baring banners. Many with messages inappropriate for this article. He is using today to take a stand against Trump, and all that the US President represents.
Like Tim, John Lannon is a member of the organisation. He’s spent years trying to halt the US military’s use of Shannon Airport.
John explains why he, amongst the other protesters at Shannon Airport, will not welcome Trump’s arrival.
‘There are lots of good reasons not to welcome President Donald Trump to Ireland. The danger that he's causing to a lot of people in his own country as a result of his racism. His failure to condemn white supremacists. His lack of regard for refugees, people who are fleeing from wars. His failure to accept the devastating effects of climate change. He's also increasing the levels of militarization and the wars of aggression. Endangering the lives of millions of civilians at the hands of US involvement around the world’.
It’s not John’s first time protesting at the airport. One of the Garda, (Irish Police), mentioned that demonstrations had been staple at Shannon Airport for many years. For a lot of these protesters, Trump’s visit represents a mere pimple head on the face of Shannon’s involvement in US military affairs.
‘This is something that we, in Ireland, are directly implicated with. Here, at Shannon Airport, where we're protesting, Trump has allowed over 3 million troops and their weapons to pass through Shannon Airport in the last decade and a half. US military and military contracted planes land on a daily basis at the airport and are provided with protection by the Gardai and Irish Defence Forces.
We’re here to highlight the fact that in allowing this, our government is complicit, and supportive, of US military aggression around the world. There have been dramatic increases in the number of military planes over the last week or two. This is a civilian airport. It was designed for civilian traffic. This is posing a very grave risk to workers and to people who are coming to the airport’.
One of the few protesters in the town of Doonbeg, where Trump’s resort lies, is Ken Meyers. He’s an ex-Marine Corps officer from the US, now a member of the organisation ‘Veterans for Peace’. Ken rigidly opposes Trump’s visit, saying that ‘his history of working in the US military, exposed the truth regarding the US’s military actions around the world’.
‘We support Irish neutrality. We are here to spread the word that the Irish government is letting down the Irish people by not enforcing Irish neutrality laws, although it is a proclaimed policy of Ireland, to be neutral. Allowing US military to use Shannon as though it was their own airbase, is a violation of neutrality. It’s a violation of the Nuremberg laws, it’s a violation of the Hague convention of 1907, in regard to neutrality’.
Though this particular Presidential visit may have riled up the biggest Irish policing operation since George W Bushes visit in 2004, the protests will not end when Trump and his entourage fly off. Trump’s blood supplies may exit Irish soil, but for as long as the US has a free pass to Shannon, these residents still sense blood on Ireland’s hands.