By Ray O’Hanlon
One of Irish America’s most prominent politicians is calling for a boycott of the Trump White House on March 16.
And Martin O’Malley, former governor of Maryland and Democratic Party presidential candidate, is invoking the 1916 Proclamation in an attempt to persuade people not to attend the White House gathering set for Thursday, March 16.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny is scheduled to present President Trump with the traditional bowl of shamrock on that day.
Governor O’Malley, in the text of his statement, does not directly call on Mr. Kenny to stay away though his online release is headed “Petition to Congress and Irish Taoiseach: Skip Trump's St. Patrick's Day Party.”
Mr. O’Malley’s appeal was released online and accompanied by a video before President Trump’s Tuesday night speech to a joint session of Congress and in which the president pointed to a possible path forward on the matter of immigration reform, specifically referring to a merit-based system that might embrace undocumented and illegal immigrants who have, to the best of their ability, lived within the bounds of U.S. law.
O’Malley, who has been very active in recent weeks campaigning for Democrats in various special elections around the country, wants people to sign a petition urging a boycott.
“The enduring symbol of the United States of America is not the barbed wire fence, it is the Statute of Liberty,” said O’Malley in an email statement.
“So please, ‘in the name of God and of the dead generations from which Ireland receives her old tradition of nationhood,’ boycott Trump's St. Patrick's Day gathering at the White House on Thursday, March 16.”
O’Malley said that the petition would be delivered to all Irish American members of Congress and the Irish embassy in Washington.
O’Malley, who has fronted his own Celtic rock band “O’Malley’s March,” wants those heading for the White House on the 16th to about face and march in the other direction.
“No shamrocks please for the immigrant-hating Mr. Trump. No tri-color flag pins for White supremacists with Irish surnames such as Stephen Bannon.
“Let's show Trump how many Irish Americans and fellow Americans oppose his policies. Make your Irish ancestors smile,” he said in his statement.
“We are not a deportation nation that breaks up immigrant families and separates parents from their children. As John F. Kennedy said, ‘We are a nation of immigrants.’ Our diversity is our greatest strength.”
O’Malley urges people to “Share this #NoShamrocks petition with your friends, family, neighbors.”
And he concluded: “Take a stand for the true character of the United States of America -- a free and generous country, a Republic with liberty and justice for all.”
O’Malley’s call, not surprisingly, has prompted significant reaction within Irish America, not all of it supportive.
Ciaran Staunton, chair of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, said he strongly disagreed with the O'Malley petition.
"It's totally unnecessary to drag partisan politics into a national holiday," Staunton told CNN.
"While I am totally opposed to Trump's immigration orders, St. Patrick's Day is an important opportunity for Irish Americans to explain the immigration problems in the Irish-American community,” Staunton said
The petition, according to O’Malley, closes at noon eastern standard time on Wednesday, March 15.