Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Trump and the Doonbeg Wall

Doonbeg's 9th green... in serious danger of being
washed away.
Forgive me Father… it has been three months since I last bashed Donald Trump.

That’s not strictly true. I’ve been enjoying myself on Twitter, watching the videos people have been making about the guy and listening in utter astonishment at some of the things he’s saying. By tomorrow morning he could very realistically be the
Republican nominee. Trump? Seriously?

I recently had a ‘debate’ with an American Twitter follower who suggested I butt out of American politics as I didn’t know what I was talking about. Of course he’s right… I don’t fully appreciate how the political system works in the USA… but it’s not difficult to see what Trump’s all about. And what my American follower fails to realise is that whether Ireland gets Enda or Michael as Taoiseach, no one outside Ireland gives a damn… but the President of the United States influences the world. From that point of view I really don’t have a problem expressing an opinion about a man who is a bigot, a racist and a liar… and whose campaign slogan “Make America Great” should be “Make America Hate” because that’s what he is doing. And how does that help anyone?

I could go on but that’s not the point of this blog… which is concerned with something far closer to home.

Doonbeg: When Push Comes to Shove

Planning permission for the Doonbeg Golf Club rock wall was recently submitted to protect Trump’s investment against Mother Nature. And as with all things Donald Trump it has been done in an aggressive, in-your-face fashion.

What Trump – through his Irish representatives, TIGL Ireland Enterprises Ltd – wants is a wall of rock 1.7 miles long, 13 feet high and 65 feet wide. That equates to 200,000 tonnes of rock. Small potatoes? I think not.

As always, Trump’s approach is direct and focuses on money: Doonbeg is worth millions to the economy… planning refusal will have "a permanent and profound negative economic impact" on the locality… we’re planning to host the Irish Open… It’s the usual bluster from a man who believes ‘it’s my way or the highway’.

But, bullyboy tactics aside, what about the practicalities of a wall to safeguard Doonbeg?

There’s no question that it is needed to protect the course, which lost considerable land in the 2014 storms, but other questions linger: will the wall be an eyesore that repels non-golfing tourists, thereby having an adverse effect on the local economy? Will there be environmental consequences (other than helping to save the narrow-mouthed whorl snail which caused Greg Norman such headaches in the early design stages)? What if every other links on the west and north coast then demands a wall – how might that affect non-golfing tourism at places like Ballybunion and Enniscrone. And who is going to pay the estimated €10 million cost? It won’t be the Mexicans.

Yes, I know other walls have been built to protect golf clubs (at Mulranny and North West, for example) so there is a precedent but no one likes to be shoved, which is exactly what Trump is doing to Clare County Council. A gentler, friendlier, consultative approach would no doubt reap better results with the council and other parties… but then that’s not Trump’s way.

So, now I’ve got that off my chest, where do you stand on Donald Trump? 

Probably not on his small potatoes.

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