Bord Pleanála refusal of permission for coastal protection works 'infuriating' for locals
The success of a small number of people in halting a planned sea wall at the Trump International resort in west Clare is anti-democratic, a local farming leader has claimed
Doonbeg farmer Willie Hanrahan said local people are "extremely disappointed and very, very angry" at the An Bord Pleanála decision last week refusing planning permission for the coastal protection works to provide a barrier between the Atlantic and the Donald Trump-owned Trump Doonbeg resort.
The dairy farmer, a former chairman of Clare IFA, said: "It is almost as if west Clare is being left for the ducks and just abandoned."
The ruling by the appeals board overturned a decision made by Clare County Council in December 2017 to give the Trump firm the go-ahead for 38,000 tonnes of rock to be placed in front of the course at Doughmore beach.
Joe Russell, general manager of Trump Doonbeg, said: "We are very disappointed and are considering our options."
In planning documentation, the Trump company, TIGL Ireland Enterprises had warned that a "do-nothing" scenario "will bring the viability of the entire resort and its potential closure into question".
Local farmer John Flanagan said: "I wouldn't blame Trump if he said 'enough is enough'. We are worried about Trump's future here."
Thirty acres of Mr Hanrahan's farm adjoins the Trump property. He said no objection was lodged against the plan from within Doonbeg, where he said the plan had widespread support.
Hitting out at those who appealed the council green light, and the appeals board ruling, Mr Flanagan said: "You are telling the local people 'you don't count', and that is infuriating.
"Our voices should be heard and they are not being heard."
Mr Hanrahan said the golf resort came about as a result of a community-wide initiative in Doonbeg in the 1990s.
"The community came together and we could see that the parish was going downhill economically and we could see that there were no jobs," he said.
Mr Hanrahan said the lands were owned by five or six farmers and a package was put together with the support of the now-defunct Shannon Development to develop the golf course. Today, the resort employs 300 people at high season and is the biggest employer in west Clare.
"No community has worked as hard to protect the community as we have," said Mr Hanrahan, an executive member of Clare IFA. "Last year, we lost our post office. We had three shops and that is down to one and now they are trying to close down the little bit of employment we have.
"The problem about this is one thing and one thing only - the name Trump. If the name Trump wasn't in Doonbeg, there wouldn't be one objection."
Mr Flanagan added: "We are crying for help and there is no one listening. Bord Pleanála won't be accountable for the destruction of west Clare."
He feels that his lands are vulnerable without the coastal protection works in place.
"You can't cut and run because no-one will want to buy land under water," he said.
Tony Lowes of the west Cork-based Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) and environmentalist Peter Sweetman are the two most high-profile opponents of the plan.
Mr Lowes said: "FIE have been against this golf course for 23 years - long before Trump was involved. It's a golden rule of planning that the permission goes with the land, not the developer.
"The 'outsiders' issue and its bedfellow the 'serial objector' are part of the distrust of experts that has led to the rise of people like Trump and (Boris) Johnson."
Mr Sweetman said: "We made submissions to the council re the compliance with EU law. We appealed that decision as it was fundamentally flawed in EU law. The fundamentals of democracy are compliance with the law."