Belfast Telegraph

Trump on flying visit to Northern Ireland, but it was his son, not President

By Brett Campbell

A mystery visitor left a Co Down town gripped by speculation that the US President had just made a flying visit.

Tongues have been wagging since a Trump helicopter was seen landing at the airport in Newtownards on Sunday, July 15 - while the American commander-in-chief was enjoying a weekend of golf at his luxury Turnberry resort in Scotland.

The rumour-mill began after the Cloud 9 Restaurant at the Ulster Flying Club shared a picture of the £7m Sikorsky S-76 chopper with the Trump name emblazoned on its side.

"Celeb spotting today again," the Facebook post read.

The helicopter's surprise visit baffled residents, who were left wondering if Donald Trump had visited the town­­­ - and if so, why?

"I'd love a wee chat with him over a coffee," one social media user wrote.

"Maybe trying to buy Scrabo Golf Club," another suggested.

It was even hinted that the President may have been there to help Ards Football Club source a new home.

Other Facebook users joked that the visitor was "going to make Ards great again".

But one person noted the conspicuous absence of a security entourage, which would accompany the President.

"The Donald wouldn't use that helicopter surely," one user wrote. The one he uses now has the presidential seal on it."

The airport described the visit as "low profile" and declined to comment further.

The timing of the appearance, which was been shrouded in secrecy, coincided with the President's break in his five-star resort in Ayrshire, which was sandwiched between meetings with Prime Minister Theresa May, the Queen and Russian President Vladimir Putin. But last night a source close to the President confirmed that the helicopter was transporting his son Eric from Turnberry to Trump International Golf Links & Hotel at Doonbeg in Co Clare.

"This was a simple stop for refuelling," they said.

The 34-year-old businessman and reality TV star has been a regular visitor to the luxury resort, which employs 300 people on Ireland's west coast.

The Trump Organisation has invested more than $50m (£38m) in the resort since it was bought in 2014 and has plans to spend more on a major expansion.

Local resident Ruth Campbell (32) rushed to the airport to catch a glimpse of the 45th President, but was left disappointed.

"I heard the helicopter and was in the park, so went over because I knew Donald Trump was in Scotland and thought there was a remote chance it was him," she said.

"I was just so intrigued, but it turned out that it was his son Eric - the fellas in the compound said he got out and shook their hands."

Belfast Telegraph

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