Wednesday 13 December 2017

'Doonbeg row left a bitter taste for Trump' - Washington Post suggests planning defeat could have major EU implications

Doonbeg Lodge, with Donald Trump (inset). Composite Image (Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Doonbeg Lodge, with Donald Trump (inset). Composite Image (Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Donald Trump pictured at Doonbeg in west Clare. Photo: Kip Carroll
Golfers walk along the coastal path on the Doonbeg Golf Links course and hotel in Co Clare Newsdesk Newsdesk

The Washington Post has taken a detailed look at Donald Trump's attempt to build a wall at his Doonbeg golf resort, and concluded the matter has "left a bitter taste" for the US President.

The influential publication spoke to supporters of Trump International's foray into Doonbeg, as well as detractors of the wall.

The planned two-mile barrier along the coast in Clare was blocked by "Irish surfers, weekend beachcombers, environmental scientists, local planners and even a microscopic snail" the Post recounted.

"For a man who loves to win, the defeat — just a month after his election as president — has left a bitter taste. And despite the motley nature of the resistance, Trump seems to have singled out a lone culprit: the European Union, whose rules and regulations underpinned many of the objections," journalist Griff Witte observed.

The article is entitled: 'Trump tried and failed to build a wall in Ireland. That could mean big trouble for Europe'.

The president's strength of feeling about the planning process which saw the hotel eventually abandoned the plans is no secret and has come up in during his public engagements.

In a joint interview with The Times and German newspaper Bild, Trump referenced the planning row when discussing EU bureaucracy.

"What happened is I went for an approval to do this massive, beautiful expansion - that was when I was a developer, now I couldn't care less about it . . . but I learnt a lot because . . . they were using environmental tricks to stop a project from being built. I found it to be a very unpleasant experience.

"To get the approvals from the EU would have taken years.

"I don't think that's good for a country like Ireland.

"So you know what I did? I said forget it, I'm not gonna build it."

Again during his first press conference after moving into the White House, as noted by the Post, Trump refers to the saga again, saying it was a "a very bad experience".

The Post looked at how Trump acquired the golf course in the first place, after it was built with the help of EU aid and then brought to the market when it was struggling.

Trump snapped up Doonbeg at a "deep discount" the paper notes.

His visit to Ireland soon after to visit his new resort saw him "given a red-carpet welcome, complete with a harpist and a handshake from the Irish finance minister" the paper notes.

The retrospective of Trump's first visit to Ireland comes as Cabinet remains divided as to whether, in his role as president, Trump should be welcomed back again.

Mary Mitchell O'Connor has said we should invite him on an official state visit, while Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has said he wouldn't issue the invitation if he was Taoiseach as he didn't see what purpose the visit could serve.

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