No wind farm paper trail as Fáilte Ireland deleted emails

Fáilte Ireland says it had deleted all its former CEO’s emails, confirming there is no paper trail to show how he had handled then-tourism minister Leo Varadkar’s controversial query about a wind farm in Clare that has sparked the ire of Donald Trump.

Last month, the Taoiseach drew criticism after he told a Washington lunch he had telephoned Clare County Council about a proposed wind farm near Trump’s Doonbeg-owned hotel.

Mr Varadkar subsequently said he was mistaken in his recollection of events, and moved to quell the controversy by releasing an email he sent to Fáilte Ireland’s then-CEO Shaun Quinn enquiring about the matter.

However, no emails, letters, or memos written by Mr Quinn were released to this newspaper following a Freedom of Information request to Fáilte Ireland for all documents relating to the body’s dealings on the wind farm issue.

“Our former chief executive officer, Shaun Quinn, left office in December 2016 and we have no records from him relating to this matter,” a cover letter issued with the documents stated.

A spokeswoman for Fáilte Ireland told this newspaper that the records have since been deleted.

“Shaun Quinn completed his tenure as CEO of Fáilte Ireland in December 2016. During the second quarter of 2017, his dormant email account was disposed of,” the spokeswoman said.

“It is operating procedure within Fáilte Ireland that all dormant accounts within the organisation are deleted and removed within three to six months of an employee’s departure. All primary records are held in the relevant areas of responsibility within the organisation.”

During last month’s traditional Taoiseach’s St Patrick’s Day visit to Washington, Mr Varadkar said Mr Trump had called him to raise his concerns about the wind farm and that he “endeavoured to do what I could do about it”. The Taoiseach later said he “didn’t have a clear recollection” of his actions and that he did not call the county council but emailed Mr Quinn on February 24, 2014.

Fáilte Ireland released more than 159 records to this newspaper following this request. Only one mentioned Mr Quinn — an email to the former CEO outlining Fáilte Ireland’s previous submissions on the wind farm application, which was sent on February 25, 2014, the day after Mr Varadkar’s email.

The Fáilte Ireland official said he was writing to Mr Quinn “further to your enquiry”. No record of this or any other enquiry was released to this newspaper.

Responding to another Freedom of Information request, Clare County Council said all third-party documentation received regarding the wind farm’s application is already publicly available via the application’s planning file.


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