Planning body says no to Trump’s Doonbeg wall

Bernie McGuire

Trump International golf resort where US President Donald Trump stayed during his three day visit to Ireland on June 7, 2019 in Doonbeg (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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Donald Trump won the US Presidency, in part, on promises to construct a wall dividing the United States from Mexico when the rest of the world was calling for the building of bridges.

Thankfully, we’re yet to see such a ‘pie-in-the-sky’ proposal go ahead and nor are we to see the building of a Trump wall in Co. Clare after the Irish Planning Board declared ‘No’ to plans by Trump International Golf Links Ireland Enterprises Limited to build a wall at Trump Doonbeg.

We’re not talking about a wall to stop illegal migrants arriving in boatloads along the Irish coastline but the building of a 38,000-tonne sea wall to curb rising sea levels being caused by climate change.

Yes, the Trump business empire is concerned about climate change while the President pontificates ‘climate change’ is a myth.

The formal proposal to build the sea wall along the crescent-shaped Doughmore Bay went before the Ireland planning agency An Bord Pleanála on Wednesday but was defeated for fears it could damage dunes that straddle the Greg Norman-designed golf course laid out along the Atlantic Ocean shoreline.

The course was officially opened on Tuesday July 9th, 2002 when Norman and Ireland’s own Padraig Harrington competed head-to-head in a ‘challenge’ match with Norman winning 2&1, though six years later, Harrington would deny the then honey-mooning Norman a third Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale.

On the night of July 7th, 2002 this journalist was among a group of golf journalists who were bused down from the K. Club to Doonbeg soon after Kiwi Michael Campbell had captured the then Smurfit-sponsored European Open at the K. Club where Harrington, then a four-time European Tour winner, had finished a shot back of Campbell in a four-way share of second.

The next morning there was a Doonbeg course opening for the invited media where we got to play a few holes with Norman and Harrington but then imagine my surprise, and also the ‘stick’ I got from my fellow Australian and also double Open Championship winning champion Norman, when my name appeared on the first tee start list as ‘Bernadette’ McGuire.

“Now c’mon Bernadette.  You should play off the Ladies Tee,” Norman joked. I’ll never forget it.

I remember too there was two wet-suited guys carrying surf boards and scurrying across the opening fairway headed to the ocean. I did manage to get my tee shot past the ladies tee, proudly finding the right side of the fairway but the joking went on for four holes before ‘The Shark’ joined another group.

It was all good fun and fond memories.

A standout highlight that day was American-born journalist Mike Purdy acing the stunning par-3 14th, the first official ‘ace’ at Doonbeg.  My other partner that morning was the Irish Examiner’s Charlie Mulqueen who walked off the same hole with a birdie.

Hey Charlie? Correct me if I’m wrong but I still remember Mike got away without ‘shouting the bar’ that day.

I only mention this tale as it was a 2014 winter Atlantic storm that wiped-out not only the then famed 14th hole, just a few months after Trump had purchased the course, but another 10 holes were damaged with Trump arranging for Martin Hawtree, who had been recommended by former R&A CEO, Peter Dawson to redesign Trump Turnberry, to alter the 11 affected holes ahead of the 2015 season and the remaining seven to be in place for 2016.

The 14th is still a par-3 measuring a little longer than its predecessor at 141-yards and in now recalling the ‘Purdy’s Ace’ yarn, I wonder if this first-ever ace at Doonbeg is recorded in the history of the club.

But back to the seriousness of this article as it was in 2017 that Clare County Council approved a plan to build two barriers but the Planning Authority also rejected the proposal to build a wall of 260 metres in length after rejecting plans for a much larger 28km wall .. yes, 28km.

The Planning Board rejected Trump’s latest approach stating:  “The board is not satisfied that the proposed development would not result in adverse effects on the physical structure, functionality and sediment supply of dune habitat within the Carrowmore Dunes special area of conservation.”

The Guardian says the decision was a victory for Peter Sweetman, a veteran litigant, Friends of the Irish Environment and other environmental groups that have campaigned against sea barriers in Doonbeg, citing the impact on the landscape, flora and fauna in a conservation area.

The article continues saying. “Many residents and politicians favoured the barriers, saying flood defences would protect not just the golf course but also farms and jobs. The resort employs 300 people.

“I’m very disappointed, and more than a little angry,” tweeted Cillian Murphy, a Fianna Fáil party councillor. “I know there are environmental concerns, but there must be a solution that protects the development and the dunes,” he added.

The decision, coming a few weeks after the R&A made no mention of whether Trump Turnberry in Scotland will ever return to the Open Championship rota, is a blow to Trump International Golf Links Ireland Enterprises Ltd as to whether or not they will go ahead with a Euro40m Doonbeg resort expansion that is to include a new ballroom, leisure facilities and more holiday homes.

I guess there won’t be any Trump-sons led pub crawl as we saw last June when their father’s presidential entourage used the resort as a base for official visits to France and England.

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