Irish at center of new Trump administration

Posted By: January 23, 2017

Claire Simpson. Irish News. Belfast. Monday, January 23, 2017

IRISH-AMERICANS, including the vice-president, are at the center of President Donald Trump’s new administration.

Vice-president Mike Pence has frequently mentioned his Irish grandfather, Richard Michael Cawley, who emigrated from Tubercurry in Co Sligo to the US in 1923. Mr. Cawley later became a bus driver in Chicago.

Mr. Pence has spoken of visiting Ireland many times as a child and said he remembered cutting turf and saving hay in counties Clare and Sligo.

Several years ago the 57-year-old cited his grandfather when, as a member of Congress, he backed plans for more relaxed immigration laws and said he was prepared to make a deal with the Democrats on the divisive issue.

“We were especially close,” Mr. Pence said of his grandfather.

Mr. Pence was raised as a Catholic but is now an evangelical Christian.

Other powerful Irish-Americans include House Speaker Paul Ryan, who previously brought his family to visit distant relatives in Co Kilkenny and Mr. Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Mr. Bannon, from Virginia, describes himself as coming from “a blue-collar, Irish Catholic, pro-Kennedy, pro-union family of Democrats.”

A former member of the US Navy, an ex-Goldman Sachs banker and a former Hollywood producer, he later took over the controversial far-right Breitbart website which has faced allegations some of its stories are misogynist, xenophobic and racist.

His appointment was seen by some Republicans as hugely divisive, particularly because President Trump has said he will be equal to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, the most senior post in the president’s administration.

President Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer, who hit the headlines on Saturday after accusing the media of “deliberately false reporting” over the size of the crowd at Friday’s inauguration, is also an Irish-American.

He attended a Benedictine school in Rhode Island before graduating from naval college.

Mr. Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, whose maiden name is Fitzpatrick, also has family connections to Ireland. Mrs. Conway, whose campaign work has been widely seen as helping Mr. Trump win the presidency, has an Irish-American


She came to prominence during the presidential campaign for her passionate defense of her employer.