PRESIDENT Donald Trump's upcoming visit to Ireland in November should be respected, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.
The announcement of the US President's visit on Friday was immediately met by calls for protests by anti-Trump activists.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1's The Marty Squad show, Mr Varadkar conceded that while many in the country strongly disagree with President Trump's policies, respect for the office of the President is of the utmost importance.
"I know a lot of people dislike him. A lot of people object to him, a lot of people disagree with a lot of his policies, just as I do in fact, but he is the president of America," the Taoiseach said.
"He is elected according to their rules, and the relationship between Ireland and the United States is so strong and so important.
"I think we have to treat his office with the respect that it deserves".
Tánaiste @simoncoveney says we should facilitate a visit to Ireland by US President Donald #Trump but that doesn’t mean we have to endorse his policies.
He’s been speaking in #Cork today... pic.twitter.com/WLNdgyRpm4
— Fiona Corcoran (@fiona96fmnews) September 3, 2018
Before touching down on Irish soil, the POTUS will visit Paris to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War One.
Although Mr Varadkar made it clear he was happy to host Mr Trump, he admitted that news of the US President's visit had come out of the blue.
"There is an open invitation to the US President to visit Ireland at any time, I think they’ve all visited since Reagan, if not before and obviously there’s an open invitation for me or any future Taoiseach to attend Washington in March," he added.
"We hadn’t known until just a couple of days ago that he was going to take the opportunity of his visit to Paris for the Armistice commemorations, commemorating a hundred years of the end of the First World War, to visit Dublin, and also he’s going to go to Doonbeg too.
Dear citizens of the U.K,
Due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, Ireland is currently in the market for one, previously used, Trump sized Balloon. We would appreciate any help that could be given to us at this time.
Ireland 🇮🇪 pic.twitter.com/oSnAPNTzCg
— OxfordDiplomat (@OxfordDiplomat) September 1, 2018
"We've got to work out a programme and all the rest of it but I think any programme we will have will have to respect the fact that we will be inaugurating our own president on November 11.
"We will have to make sure that we have enough time and space to commemorate the Armistice because bear in mind hundreds of thousands of Irish people, including a lot of people from this city, fought in the First World War.
"We need to make sure that’s appropriate and fits around that as well."
The Taoiseach's comments come after an announcement by protesters that the infamous balloon depicting Mr Trump as a giant baby in a nappy will be flown in Ireland as it was in London during the US leader's recent visit to Britain.
Those behind the plan say November's visit represents "an excellent opportunity" for the controversial caricature to take back to the skies.