There is no question but that Donald Trump will return to Doonbeg many times as United States president.
That was the prediction made yesterday by Eric Trump, son of the Republicans’ presumptive nominee for president, as he opened a €5m redesigned links course at Doonbeg, Co Clare.
In an interview at the resort yesterday, Eric said: “Right now, my father is winning the day in America. If the vote was today, he would be president of the United States.”
Looking on at the course — reshaped by renowned course designer Martin Hawtree — at the end of a two-year project, Eric said: “I think people are blown away by what they see. The members are on cloud nine. We have put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this property. It is a special day for the family. It is a property we love.”
He said that since, February 2014 ,the Trumps have invested “north of $50m to $60m” in Doonbeg, including the purchase price, and are ready to spend more.
“Nowadays, Doonbeg is really becoming the talk of the world, which is really nice for the west of Ireland.”
Eric said his father knows every inch of the course intimately.
“I was on the phone to him earlier for 20 minutes and he was asking: ‘How is 4 looking? How is 6? How is 18?’ He was very envious of me being here.”
Plans were lodged last week with Clare County Council for a €10m coastal protection works or ‘berm’ to protect the course from being washed away by wild Atlantic storms.
Eric said: “When I came here and saw it for the first time in 2014, they lost 20 or 30 metres of dunes — you have a couple more storms and quite frankly that course doesn’t exist.
“If that course doesn’t exist, neither does the hotel, because I would say upwards 90% of all people who come to this resort are coming with golf clubs. If you take away that amenity, this place couldn’t survive in the location it is in and you don’t have the employees or the lights on.
“The coastal berm is very important. Lahinch has it, Ballybunion has it, and they have had it for a very long time.
“Nowadays, it seems like there is a 100-year storm every year and you get caught by a couple more storms, you are not going to have a course and that is a real problem. So we just need to do something to protect select areas of it and whatever you do, you have to make sure that you do sensitively and super-delicately.
“There is no question that the council is behind it. The local community is 1,000% behind it because they need it and it is an absolute necessity for the area and for local employment.
“Doonbeg will go down as one of the great treasures of Ireland. It would be a shame to see that disappear.
“There are holes right on the water that would disappear. You couldn’t add those back in. You can’t shift the course sideways because there wouldn’t be enough land. So you could lose the 9th hole; you could lose the 18th hole; you could lose no 6; you could lose no 14.
“Doonbeg would literally cease to exist — it would be a travesty if that happened.”
On his father’s White House bid, Eric said: “My father jumped into this race because he wants to save America from some of the things it is not doing right. He wants to win for the right reasons.”
Asked how the criticism his father has received from some quarters has affected him, Eric said: “On a human level, you never want to see your father attacked. I am the first person who wants to jump through the TV sometimes and shake somebody — especially when they are miscategorising something.
“You want to shake people. He has put $50m of his own into the campaign, plus devoted months of his life, and put aside his whole business to do something noble. That is a pretty selfless act.”
Asked if his father’s comments on Mexicans and Muslims had affected business, Eric said: “The hotels are doing better than ever. It is very easy to say ‘his views on Muslims and views on Mexicans’. There is a much bigger picture than categorising it like that. It is really views on illegal immigration and that is the biggest issue that faces America.
“At the southern border, where you have tens and tens of thousands of people crossing every day and they are carrying heroin, meth-amphetamine, and cocaine that is getting through and it is affecting the youth, it is affecting family structure, and it is affecting society and causing massive problems and massive violence, massive addiction.
“My father was the first one to say something about this and we need to handle the wall and the southern border. My Mom is an immigrant, there is no one as close to immigration than us.
“At the same time, you need to know who is coming into the country and you need to know damn sure, they are not doing bad things like bringing in those drugs.
“It is a real problem in the US right now and a lot of people want to categorise that as ‘a ban on Mexicans’.
“It is not what it is — it is knowing who is coming across your border.
“We have got to know who is coming into our country.
“The same with the Muslims. We have projects in so many Muslim countries around the world — it is nothing to do with them.
“But if you are about to accept 200,000 Syrian refugees and you don’t know who they are and you can’t vet them and our intelligence agencies are saying ‘there are bad people in here and we know them to be linked with ISIS and al Qaida’, that is real problem and you know what they are going to do when they come over to the US.”
Asked if it is hurtful when his father is described as a racist or anti-Muslim, Eric said: “That is the leftist line. Anyone who disagrees with them is racist. That has been part of the Democratic playbook for the last 50 years.
“Unfortunately, that is the name of the game.”
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