Demonstrators gathered in central Belfast yesterday in protest at Donald Trump’s UK visit.
Some of the people present said the US president is not welcome in Northern Ireland.
They are entitled to protest because this country, like America, has freedom of speech.
It is a sign of the naivete of the demonstrators, or perhaps of their hypocrisy, that only a fraction of their number have protested when brutal tyrants visit the UK.
Over the decades, murderous European, Asian, South American and African dictators have been hosted in London, with minimal protest, or none at all. Chinese leaders dripping in blood from the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre have been feted in the UK, in pursuit of business deals.
Some anti Trump protestors say, not unreasonably, that western leaders should be held to a higher standard than tyrants. And they are, and subject to greater constraints.
But whatever people think of President Trump personally – and recent days, in which he humiliated Theresa May, then spoke warmly beside her, have underscored his turbulent side – the office he holds deserves deep respect.
Ties of culture and history and language mean that the US needs to be a key British ally in the decades ahead.
In Northern Ireland it would be wonderful if Mr Trump came and enjoyed our fine golf courses. Snubbing the leader of a superpower, as Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has done, only hurts the much smaller country.