Trump - The view from Ireland
I have many relatives in Ireland, and we communicate frequently, although not usually on political topics. Last year was different, as attention on the U.S. presidential election was high, as it usually is in Ireland. Ireland is truly one of America's best allies, but I won't take any credit for that.
I knew, from comments I had been receiving, that there was great interest in what was happening here. So I asked three of my relatives to tell me (and you) what they think. They were happy to do so, and they were candid.
• Brenda O'Callahan is 42 and lives in Cork. She has a daughter with special needs. She wrote:
"Trump to me is one of the most dangerous people any country could have as a president. The things he did and spoke about in the campaign trail were so racist, he incited hate in so many ways. I just can't believe that he's the best the Republican Party could pick.
"He spoke at a rally and took off on a reporter who has special needs and whose speech is not good, and thought this was funny! How was this funny? Nothing about Trump is presidential, nothing. I don't know of anyone here who thinks he's a good choice: most think he is ridiculous."
• Fiona McGonnell, who is 44, lives in County Clare, wrote:
"I am living just outside Ennis in County Clare. As you know, Donald Trump owns the Trump International Golf Club and Spa in Doonbeg on the west coast of County Clare. It really is a beautiful place and this small village has hugely benefitted from his business. In rural Clare, there is little employment and this provides many jobs and keeps the village vibrant with young people who would otherwise emigrate. From this perspective, Donald Trump is welcomed here and during his last visit, the red carpet was literally rolled out in Shannon Airport on his arrival.
"However, many of my friends around Ireland (and I) are very fearful of how volatile Donald Trump is and what this will mean for the rest of the world. He comes across as reactive when he doesn't get his way and like a spoilt toddler is liable to do anything to lash out. This is not the quality anyone wants to see in the president of the United States of America, the most powerful position in the world.
"His attitude on climate change, women, 'non-Americans', business success at all costs, reverence for Putin, to name just a few, are very worrying.
"We all know fellow Irish people who have emigrated to the U.S., some legally, some are undocumented, we are fearful of their fate in this new order. "Trump has tapped into a huge anger, fear and bitterness that enabled him to get elected; I do not think that whipping up such negativity on a huge scale is good for the U.S., or the rest of the world. The issues that have alienated so many voters from the existing political establishment will not be addressed by Donald Trump; we have seen him row back on many pre-election promises already. This will cause further anger, fear and bitterness, not good for the U.S. or the rest of the world."
• Eammon Marnane (that's how they spell it), is 49 and lives just outside Dublin:
"I think he ran an extremely smart campaign against an establishment character with little charisma.
"I don't believe a closer relationship with Putin is such a bad thing going forward. The western media portray him as expansionist but the Russians have never been that way since the demise of Stalin and have only looked for a buffer against NATO.
"Historically, the American public hate being duped and have shown themselves to be a lot more intelligent than the rest of the world portrays them in terms of voting.
"I wouldn't have the same negativity towards his policies as Fiona (above). For example, the concern for Irish immigrants based on his policies is no different from proposals the Obama administration had a number of years back.
"His views on women and his alienation of minorities in the US I would view as worrying but again I can't help but feel he was playing to a certain audience.
"However, my daughters' represent another side of that. Both Áine (13) and Faye (11), like most kids, were exposed to the marathon presidential election media coverage and now believe the U.S. is populated by a bunch of women-hating, gun toting racists after Trump was voted in (I kid you not). It's that view of the U.S. from young people in Western Europe (not only Ireland) which should concern all Americans."
Ed Murnane, email@example.com, of Arlington Heights, is retired president of the Illinois Civil Justice League and a former staff member for presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.