THREE years ago the arrival of Donald Trump saw one of the most extensive security operations in Clare’s history, and he is due to visit his property in Doonbeg again this month.
In 2019 Gardai from around the country spent a few days in Clare for the visit, but sources this week say that the operation this time will be far less significant.
Last week it was said that Garda preparations on the ground around Shannon Airport had not begun, as full details of the Trump visit were not available.
However, local Gardai expect that the vast majority of the Gardai involved in security this time will be drawn from the Clare division, with perhaps a small bit of assistance from neighbouring areas.
Even if it were required, Gardai say that bringing in members of the force from other parts of the country would be far more difficult now, with many hotels in the region already fully occupied due to the refugee crisis.
As a former president, Trump still has significant personal protection from the US Secret Service, and it’s likely that those involved in it will have discussions with the Gardai prior to his arrival.
There was huge expenditure on the Presidential visit in 2019, and while Trump is no longer the serving President, local county councillor Cillian Murphy still expects there will be tight security.
“At the end of the day I can’t see there being anything but a major security operation. At the end of the day former Presidents still retain security details and all that sort of stuff so I can’t see there being anything but a really robust security presence.”
Councillor Murphy said that people need to realise that there is a difference between Donald Trump and the west Clare community in which he provides hundreds of jobs.
“He’s a controversial figure, there’s always going to be media attention, but most people are adult enough to distinguish between the hotel, which is effectively a local hotel, and its current owner. It’s as simple as that.”
In 2019 there were some protests at Shannon as Trump arrived and departed, but virtually none at all in Doonbeg where security was exceptionally tight, but there was still severe online criticism of both the President and local people in the Long Village.
Councillor Murphy said he hopes that won’t be repeated in a few weeks, when Trump fills the news cycles once again.
“The community of Doonbeg was pilloried the last time and at the end of the day the people of Doonbeg are extremely good people.
“They have a great community, they are extremely welcoming to anyone and everyone who comes to their community.
“I think they were unfairly tarnished and we need to distinguish between the very strong local business that provides an awful lot of local employment and the man himself. People will have to make that distinction themselves.”
He said that the golf tourism has made a big difference to Doonbeg, and appreciating its importance does not mean people endorse Trump’s views.
“The hotel and golf club has been an integral part of life there for a long, long time, it provides an awful lot of employment.
“People went overboard the last time with their criticisms of the community. Let’s draw a line between a community that supports a hotel there and people who may support Trump himself.”
The economic impact of Trump International on West Clare is very substantial, as it employed 230 in 2019, just before the pandemic struck. The same year it spent in excess of €6.5 million on staff.
Prior to Trump purchasing it in 2014, it had been closed for some time and there had been significant concerns about its long term future.
It was estimated that Trump’s 2019 visit cost the Irish taxpayer in the region of €10 million.
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.