Friday, April 21, 2017

Eric Trump's Visit to Doonbeg, 2017

The beach, the resort and where the rock wall will appear
The Trump wall is back on the agenda and back in the news following Eric Trump’s visit last week to Doonbeg. Ivan Morris, the golf scribe, recently wrote a piece in the Irish Golfer Magazine’s Digital edition (click here to read it), pointing to the enormous benefits such a wall would bring. These are simple: the local economy does rather well out of Doonbeg and its multitude of visitors; and Doonbeg is an excellent course and one Ivan has a passion for. Protecting
the course from storms, such as the one which claimed the famous 14th hole in 2014, seems like a no-brainer.

I also agree with Ivan that people have taken against the ‘rock armour’ because the name ‘Trump’ hangs over the door. It’s not the only reason but it is one of them.
The famous 1st hole at Doonbeg
Such defences have been used to protect other golf courses around the country – Ivan references Lahinch, and Ballybunion has them too – so why is this particular ‘wall’ raising such heated debate?
  1. Its scale is vast. I have not seen the latest proposals but last year the proposed rock wall weighed in at an eye-watering 1.7 miles long, 13 feet high and 65 feet wide. That equates to 200,000 tonnes of rock.
  2. It will be an eyesore for the golfer but even more so for those who use the beach itself and have been for decades – whether walking, surfing or for any other relaxing activity. Why should they have to endure it?
  3. The course is a new links (opened 2001) and such dangers were highlighted before design work began. Indeed, planning permission directed the original owners not to build so close to the sea. This has nothing to do with Trump, I hasten to add.
  4. There are environmental concerns but Trump (and big business and governments in general) has shown scant regard for the environment when there’s money involved.
  5. Because the Trump organisation spouts endless falsehoods and empty promises in an attempt to bully people around to their way of thinking. It appears to be their way of doing business.

The 6th at Doonbeg. Again, this beach will have 'rock armour' put in place
Here’s what Eric Trump said to the Clare Champion, last week, when discussing their intended investment… pending the planning application.

It’s tens of millions. Easily €30m, when everything is said and done.
“We have a massive plan for an unbelievable ballroom here, which will create hundreds of construction jobs, as well as full-time jobs. We have plans to possibly build more hotel suites. I want to do a massive pool complex here and a fitness complex. We want to do more hospitality, lodgings and villas. We have something amazing here and we want to continue to expand that.”
And then came the caveat…
We’re not going to do any of that until this problem is taken care of because we simply can’t. We just don’t know the fate of our property, without being able to protect it. We have put in tens of millions of dollars but phase two and three of the project depend on planning. You’re not going to put up a tonne of money if you’re not certain as to whether or not storms are going to come and wipe three holes off the golf course. You just can’t do it.
The par three 11th at Doonbeg
In other words… we will do all of these wonderful things for you, but only if you give us what we want first. It’s the Trump business philosophy and one which has proven false elsewhere… Aberdeen, anyone?

And then he tosses in another ‘aren’t we wonderful’ grenade:

Had we not bought this course, after the damage sustained by the big [2014] storm, this property would have been out of business. You would have had a ghost shell of a hotel here right now. It would not be open. We rebuilt it once but there are only so many times that you rebuild a property.”

We’re your saviours… without us you’d be nothing. More Trump business philosophy… still pathetic. It’s an avalanche of words which contains as many falsehoods as it contains truths.
The 1st tee.
I don’t disagree with Ivan that defences are required but as I’ve said before, nature and the environment wrongly come second in any business considerations these days. Economic function is the number one priority and short term economic gain always trumps long term care and appreciation of the environment.

It is no surprise that the Doonbeg locals support the wall – it’s their livelihoods after all - it’s just I wish Trump – all of them – understood the art of subtlety and collaboration, and it wasn’t all this bull-in-a-china-shop routine where they shout over any dissenting voices and claim they know better than everybody else.

I like Doonbeg – I make no secret of that – and it’s a course/resort that needs to be saved… but the concerns of other interested parties (environment/nature) can’t just be dismissed out of hand.

I hope that some day in the future, Ivan and I can tee it up and Doonbeg and look out over a course which is appropriately defended, not an eyesore, and satisfies the needs and expectations of everyone.

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