A district court judge has set aside a judgement of €14,095 against the President of the United States, Donald Trump.
At Ennis District Court, Judge Patrick Durcan said that the claim by Cork civil engineer, John V Lennon, that resulted in the judgement against Mr Trump “has no basis in law whatsoever” and “is vexatious”.
Judge Durcan said that Mr Lennon’s vexatious claim “was an attempt to attract publicity”.
In court, Mr Lennon denied that the claim was vexatious or that he was seeking publicity.
Judge Durcan made his ruling following an application by Co. Clare based lawyers for Mr Trump, Patrick Whyms BL and solicitor, Lorraine Burke to have the judgement set aside.
In his ruling, Judge Durcan said that he failed to see how someone of Mr Lennon’s ability and experience in the planning process would not but see the error of his ways, and that his actions were motivated by the identity of the respondent (Mr Trump) in the case.
Judge Durcan said that if he was unhappy with what a neighbour was building beside him and he ran up a bill of thousands of euros objecting, he would have to pay the costs no matter what the outcome.
Mr Lennon told the court that he made his claim for the €14,095 as a result of the time and effort he made in objecting to Trump Doonbeg’s planned 200,000 tonne rock barrier last year.
The Trump organisation operate its luxury golf resort at Doonbeg which they purchased for a knockdown price in February 2014.
Mr Lennon told the court that he said "Happy Christmas to myself" last December when the rock barrier application was withdrawn at Clare County Council.
Mr Lennon told the court that nine days prior to the withdrawal he staged a one-man protest outside Trump Tower on New York City’s against the Trump Doonbeg application.
At Thanksgiving last November, Mr Lennon was pictured outside Trump Tower with a sign saying "No wall in Doonbeg, Ireland".
However, Mr Lennon of John Paul Lennon & Co, Consulting Engineers, Rosehill Terrace, told the court that he became “intellectually infuriated” when he saw that Trump Doonbeg lodged a new coastal protection works application a few weeks after the withdrawal of the first plan.
He said: “I was happy to let the hare sit following the withdrawal of the first application, but I considered the second application to be an abuse of process and playing fast and loose with the Irish planning process.”
He said: “I believed then that I was entitled to recover my time and effort from the first application.”
Mr Lennon said that now that Mr Trump is the President of the United States “and has a record I believe…, before Judge Durcan interrupted to say “Ah, ah, Mr Lennon, you are straying – I want you to deal with the application before the court”.
Mr Lennon said that he knew that the Trump Doonbeg company, TIGL Ireland Enterprises Ltd made the application, but that the “dogs on the street know that Mr Trump is the owner of Doonbeg golf club”.
Mr Lennon said: “Mr Trump has gone on public record saying he thinks it is small potatoes and that he doesn’t have that much interest in it.”
Counsel for Mr Trump, Patrick Whyms BL said that Mr Trump was never served with the claim. He said: “The planning application was not made by Mr Trump but by TIGL Ireland Enterprises Ltd."
Mr Whyms said that the alleged basis of liability has no basis in law and that the claim is patently vexatious.
He said that Mr Lennon obtained the judgement in the local court office last June.
Mr Whyms said even if judgement is set aside, it doesn’t prevent Mr Lennon from proceeding with his claim at a later date.
Mr Whyms applied for his client’s costs in the case, but Judge Durcan said that the issue of costs can be reserved until the full hearing into Mr Lennon’s claim is heard.
Speaking outside court, Mr Lennon said that he was satisfied with the outcome and confident that he would win the overall action concerning his claim for €14,095 when it is heard.
He said: “Today was very satisfactory for me.”
Asked about Judge Durcan’s comments that he made the claim for the publicity, Mr Lennon said: “I did it because I was annoyed. I couldn’t give a shit about publicity. I don‘t need publicity.”
Earlier this year, President Trump resigned as a director of the two Trump Doonbeg resort firms just days before he was sworn in as President.