Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

US billionaire Donald Trump buys Irish course for £12.4m

US billionaire Donald Trump has bought Doonbeg golf course
US billionaire Donald Trump has bought Doonbeg golf course

US billionaire Donald Trump has bought Doonbeg golf course in the west of Ireland after losing a legal challenge to an offshore wind farm project within sight of his Scottish golf resort.

The flamboyant tycoon paid in the region of £12.4m after receivers were appointed earlier this year – although he will have to spend around €1m immediately on storm damage repairs.

Mr Trump said he was switching his focus to Ireland after a Scottish judge rejected his legal action against a wind energy project off the Aberdeenshire coast, although he has vowed to appeal the Scottish decision.

Mr Trump had claimed the offshore turbines would spoil the view from his luxury golf course there. His new focus on Ireland may raise hopes that Mr Trump will look north of the border again.

The 400-acre Doonbeg golf course in Clare
The 400-acre Doonbeg golf course in Clare

Mr Trump had threatened to pull the plug on his proposed £750m resort at Menie Estate, near Balmedie, if an 11-turbine offshore wind farm within sight of the development got the go-ahead.

In 2007, amid delays to his Scottish project, a frustrated Mr Trump angrily suggested he could switch his plans to Co Antrim.

That statement was seized upon by local politicians, including the then First Minister Ian Paisley, who discussed the plan with Mr Trump in New York.

But Mr Trump's sudden interest in the Northern Irish golf market was viewed by many simply as a tactic to get his own way in Aberdeenshire. Speaking from New York yesterday, Mr Trump said his new five-star Co Clare destination – with an existing 18-hole championship golf links – will be transformed into an unparalleled resort with the highest standards of luxury.

But Clare County Council – which examined all the storm damage caused across the county – has found that the bill to repair the links course will come to €954,447.

The world-renowned Irish course will be renamed Trump International Golf Links, Ireland.

"We will appeal this decision and in the meantime we will be focusing all of our investment and energy towards our new acquisition on the Atlantic Ocean in Ireland," he said.

Last November, lawyers for Trump International Golf Club Scotland and the Trump Organisation asked the Court of Session in Edinburgh to rule as unlawful the Scottish Government's approval of the wind farm.

However, in his ruling yesterday judge Lord Doherty rejected the legal bid.

BACKGROUND

The 400-acre Co Clare resort bought by billionaire Donald Trump fronts 2.5 miles of the Atlantic Ocean. It includes the 218-room The Lodge at Doonbeg, with spa and restaurants. Andrea Corr, lead singer with The Corrs, celebrated her celebrity wedding to billionaire Brett Desmond at the resort in 2009.

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