Irish surfers are warning billionaire Donald Trump to stay away from their right of way.
The surfing community in Doonbeg, Co Clare, remain wary of Trump’s plans to turn the golf resort at Doonbeg Lodge into one of the world’s top attractions.
Locals also say Ireland should be embarrassed by the over-the-top red carpet treatment – which included harpists and a welcome from Finance Minister Michael Noonan – laid out to welcome the billionaire at Shannon Airport.
"It was pathetic. Someone in Failte Ireland should be shot, if that's the image we're promoting. It was a cringe," Dexter McCullough, treasurer of the West Coast Surf Club and owner of the Clare Surf Safari.
"Times have to move on, but at the same time I'll be looking out to make sure that he doesn't take the advantage," he said.
McCullough is concerned about a right of way, which crosses between two greens at the Doonbeg golf course and is used by surfers and other beachgoers to access the Doughmore beach. The right of way used to be manned by a hotel staff member to stop surfers crossing as golfers teed off.
"We had a lot of trouble here years ago to make sure that the right of way was open for us," he told the Irish Independent.
"The surfing industry brings a lot of tourism to Ireland as well, not just the golfing industry and we have to go hand in hand with each other.”
Joe Russell, the general manager at the lodge, told the Independent that there were no plans to close the right of way, or change the current set-up for surfers and the public wishing to access the beach.
"I'm a golfer," said Russell, "and I know of a number of golf courses around the world where they have paths and public rights of way. We have people walking the beach and surfing and people playing golf here every day and it's beautiful to see everyone enjoying the place."
Susanne Magee, who runs the local Dolphinwatch, said: "When the lodge at Doonbeg golf links was first built, there was a lot of controversy over the preservation of a sensitive dune system and its inhabitants, micro or otherwise, as well as an issue over right of way for surfers and beach walkers to Doughmore Beach. Eventually, compromises were made."
Some local business are welcoming Trump’s development plans.
"We welcome the Trumps 100 percent. We met Donald Jnr and everything he said inspired confidence for the future of the area,” said Hugh McNally of Morrissey’s Seafood Bar & Grill.
Mcnally renovated his business on the impending arrival of the resort nearly 10 years ago.
"The golf course gave me the confidence to do the expansion. I spent a lot of money around 2006. The last two or three years have been difficult, but this investment brings back the confidence of those early 2006 days," he said.
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