Sunday 17 December 2017

Donald Trump vows to triple investment to €45m as Doonbeg plan swings into action

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

PROPERTY tycoon Donald Trump is considering more investments in Ireland and will be spending a lot of his time and money here from now on.

The American billionaire also believes he played a part in Ireland's recovery because of the publicity his €15m investment in Doonbeg golf course in Co Clare has generated.

The 67-year-old businessman, who is on a three-day visit to Clare, said he had committed to tripling his investment in the rebranded Trump International Golf Links and Hotel Ireland and said the whole project would create "hundreds of jobs".

It had all the hallmarks of a presidential visit at Shannon when he stepped out of his private jet, a Boeing 757 emblazoned with the Trump logo in gold lettering, accompanied by his sons Don Jnr and Eric and his daughter Ivanka.

They were greeted by a welcoming committee that included Finance Minister Michael Noonan, Clare mayor Joe Arkins, county manager Tom Coughlan and chairman of Shannon Airport Rose Hynes, at the top of the red carpet while music trio 'Affinity' entertained them on the tarmac.

Inside, he told reporters: "Ireland is coming back and it's coming back really strong and I think I've helped because I've got so much publicity with the purchase that I think, frankly, this one thing alone has been a great thing for Ireland.

"I can tell the minister that I really believe Ireland is so highly thought of and, you know, over the next couple of years we'll see some tremendous things happen here."

He said he looked forward to bringing the 'Trump Factor' to Doonbeg as he had done in his resort at the Meine Estate in Aberdeen. The two resorts – along with his newly acquired Turnberry in Ayrshire – will all form part of the 'Trump Triangle' that will see thousands of visitors ferried by helicopter between the three courses.

"People really want to come here. It's a little tougher to get to but it's a short flight," he said. "We're going to make this something it should have been from the beginning."

Mr Trump claimed he was "loved in Scotland" and promised that in two years' time, anyone who loved Ireland would thank him for the work he's going to carry out at the Doonbeg course. He said the works would be representative of the community as well as environmentally sensitive.

TOUCHDOWN: Donald Trump arrives at Shannon Airport in his private Boeing 757 jet
TOUCHDOWN: Donald Trump arrives at Shannon Airport in his private Boeing 757 jet
Donald Trump, sons Eric and Donald Jnr and daughter Ivanka dismembark from his personally customised 757 at Shannon Airport. Pic Sean Curtin Photo.
Donald Trump is greeted by Finance Minister Michael Noonan after landing in his personally customised 757 at Shannon Airport. Picture Sean Curtin Photo.
Donald Trump with his sons Don Jnr and Eric and daughter Ivanka at Shannon Airport
Donald Trump looks promotional material for his Clare resort at Shannon Airport. Pic Sean Curtin Photo.
A golfer on the Doonbeg Golf Links course and hotel in Co Clare yesterday
Golfers walk along the coastal path on the Doonbeg Golf Links course and hotel in Co Clare yesterday

He has been embroiled in disputes over redevelopment of the Menie Estate.

But Mr Trump added: "One of the little known secrets is that in Aberdeen they did a poll and I have a 93pc approval rating in town."

He revealed he had already been contacted by the organisers of the Irish Open and the European Tour and said there would be a lot of events coming to the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel Ireland because the course, which was designed by Greg Norman, would be one of the best in the world.

"It's only developments that are going to be iconic that I'm interested in. I don't have enough time left to do the boring ones but it's going to be truly iconic and something Ireland will be extremely proud of," he said.

The star of 'The Apprentice US' added that most of the work would be completed within the next 90 days and he had hired golf designer Martin Hawtree to work on the Doonbeg course.

He hoped to extend the number of rooms, create a magnificent ballroom and spa but he was also likely to make other unrelated investments.

Mr Trump praised council chiefs who he said had "killed" plans for an offshore wind farm in sight of the golf course. He also committed to working with environmental groups and would be a friend to the microscopic snail, the angustior vertigo, a protected species. Part of the 450-acre estate is a special area of conservation (SAC). He would be looking for permits for breakwaters, large boulders that would help shore up the coastline that suffered extensive erosion damage in the storms.

Asked if he still had ambitions to seek the Republican nomination for another White House bid, he said: "We've big elections coming up in November and after that people will be making decisions so we'll see what happens."

Irish Independent

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