WITH the US presidential election over and Donald Trump set to leave the White House, attention in west Clare has returned to more pressing local matters.
The Doonbeg Coastal Protection Group has produced a new brochure on the need for protection works at Doughmore, which Trump International is keen to carry out. An application by Trump’s organisation to carry out the works was refused by An Bord Pleanála and PRO of the Doonbeg Coastal Protection Group Liam Ryan says the brochure highlights again why the protection is required. “If you look at the first page we say it is sustaining over 300 jobs in West Clare and that’s our main interest, to protect what is there.
“We explain why it is not renewing itself; anybody can see that the grass and the topsoil is falling down on the sand, and there are no stones to protect it.
“The Presidency thing, as we see it, is over, and it was of little interest to us. We were just asked questions on the President and what he is like and we gave honest opinions on what they are like when they’re down in West Clare,” said Mr Ryan.
He said he is concerned that nothing will be done, and if the Trump organisation cannot protect their property from coastal erosion, then they are less likely to invest in the facility.
Part of the reason for producing the document is to highlight to politicians that a positive outcome is required, before a crisis emerges in an economically isolated area. “The worry,” says Mr Ryan, “is that politicians wait and wait and wait and then when something is gone they’ll form a taskforce and there’ll be a big announcement. We’re trying to pre-empt that, we don’t want to wait until we’re at that stage.”
Mr Ryan says that the works are going to have to be done at some point, as erosion continues to happen and the Trump offer needs to be taken up. “I live right beside the sand dunes and I walk the beach there, I can see the damage that is being done. If the work isn’t done by the company in the near future it’s going to have to be done by Clare County Council and then it’s going to cost the people of Clare.”
From the group’s point of view, the appeal of solving a clear problem and saving the public purse is blindingly obvious.
It is a huge issue for the whole of Clare, says Mr Ryan, given the jobs created at Doonbeg, the economic impact of golf tourists on the county and the boost it gives to Shannon Airport.
Piecemeal works are currently taking place in Doughmore, instead of actually providing a proper solution, he says. “In the last week there are diggers trying to protect from the bad weather that is coming up. We don’t care how much money anyone has, but we have to be fair.
“When you know you are throwing money down the drain, putting up something that’s going to be washed away in a few weeks, trying to protect your few greens, it doesn’t seem right.”
Not only is Trump International important to the West Clare economy, Mr Ryan says that local people are made welcome there as well as affluent visitors. “There are very few places where there’s a five star facility, that’s run, managed and controlled locally by local people. It’s a pleasure to go in and have a meal or a cup of coffee there.”
There are plans for significant additional developments at the site, which would encourage year-round tourism, but Mr Ryan worries they won’t go ahead, if proper coastal protection works are refused. Ultimately, he feels a degree of engagement and common sense is needed. “Wouldn’t it be crazy if the company were asked to go away and prepare another proposal, which could take years and allow a lot of damage to be done?
“Surely in a situation like this the Government could get An Bord Pleanála, the council and the company to get together and try to compromise, instead of people writing letters to one another, wasting years and wasting a small fortune.”