Thursday 23 October 2014

Surfers warn Trump: 'Don't mess with our right of way'

Published 18/05/2014 | 02:30

RIGHT OF WAY: Surf instructor Dexter McCullough. Photo: Eamonn Ward

Tycoon Donald Trump has been warned by surfers – "Don't mess with our right of way, dude"!

Locals in Doonbeg, Co Clare, say they will fight to keep a right of way across the Trump golf course, which leads to a surfers' paradise.

Huge Atlantic waves have lured some of the world's best surfers to the area. The surfing community remains cautious over the billionaire's plans to develop the golf resort at Doonbeg Lodge and say the country should be embarrassed by the red carpet treatment laid on for Mr Trump.

"It was pathetic. Someone in Failte Ireland should be shot, if that's the image we're promoting. It was a cringe," Dexter McCullough, treasurer of the West Coast Surf Club said of Mr Trump's welcome at Shannon Airport, which included harpists and a state-visit-style welcome from Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

"Times have to move on, but at the same time I'll be looking out to make sure that he doesn't take the advantage," Mr McCullough said.

The Clare Surf Safari owner is concerned about a right of way, which runs across the Doonbeg golf course and is used by surfers and other beachgoers for access to the Doughmore beach.

"We had a lot of trouble here years ago to make sure that the right of way was open for us," Mr McCullough said.

When the Doonbeg resort was first opened, the right of way, which crosses between two greens and can interfere with play, was manned by a hotel staff member to stop surfers crossing as golfers teed off. "The surfing industry brings a lot of tourism to Ireland as well, not just the golfing industry and we have to go hand in hand with each other," Mr McCullough said.

Joe Russell, general manager at Doonbeg Lodge, said management had no plans to close the right of way, or change the current situation for surfers and the public wishing to access the beach.

"I'm a golfer," Mr Russell said, "and I know of a number of golf courses around the world where they have paths and public rights of way. We have people walking the beach and surfing and people playing golf here every day and it's beautiful to see everyone enjoying the place."

Susanne Magee, who runs the local Dolphinwatch, has seen compromises made between environmentalists, locals and previous owners at the Doonbeg resort: "When the lodge at Doonbeg golf links was first built, there was a lot of controversy over the preservation of a sensitive dune system and its inhabitants, micro or otherwise, as well as an issue over right of way for surfers and beach walkers to Doughmore Beach. Eventually, compromises were made."

Hugh McNally, of nearby Morrissey's Seafood Bar & Grill, said: "We welcome the Trumps 100 per cent. We met Donald Jnr and everything he said inspired confidence for the future of the area."

Mr McNally renovated his business almost 10 years ago, on the back of the impending arrival of the five-star resort.

"The golf course gave me the confidence to do the expansion. I spent a lot of money around 2006. The last two or three years have been difficult, but this investment brings back the confidence of those early 2006 days," he said.

Sunday Independent

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