Irish PM under fire: Anger at revelation Varadkar intervened in Donald Trump planning iss

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Posted on Mar 17 2018 - 10:46pm by admin

At the time the Taoiseach was the Irish tourism minister and spoke to Clare County Council about a planning application near the Doonbeg golf resort which Mr Trump purchased in 2014.

Mr Trump called Mr Varadkar’s office over concerns the wind farm would affect the tourism numbers in the area and therefore impact on attendance of his resort.

Mr Varadkar said while in Washington DC yesterday: “As the President alluded to, we had been in contact before the President became President and I became Taoiseach.

“It happened three or four years ago when I was Minister for Tourism.

“My assistant said, ‘there’s a call, Donald Trump wants to speak to you’. And I just thought ‘this can’t be the case. This has to be a p*** take by one of my staff members. Surely a businessman like Donald Trump would write a letter first and organise a meeting.’

“But as we all know, President Trump doesn’t work like that.

“He’s a very direct man, likes to get things done. So at the other end of the phone was Donald Trump saying to me he had bought this resort in Ireland in Co Clare – a beautiful golf resort called Doonbeg.

“But there was a problem nearby, somebody was trying to build a wind farm and that, of course, could have a real impact on tourism and the beauty of the landscape.

“I endeavoured to do what I could do about it and I rang the county council and inquired about the planning permission, and subsequently the planning permission was declined and the wind farm was never built.”

A tweet from Mr Trump in 2014 also confirms the rejection of the planning permission.

The tweet said: “Great news from Ireland – Clare County Council  turned down massive wind farm new my hotel & golf course in Doonbeg.”

Clare County Council said it has no recollection or record of Mr Varadkar making this inquiry about a wind farm planning application proposed four years ago.

A spokesperson for Mr Varadkar told the BBC that his inquiry into the planning application was “normal work of a minister’s office”.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan branded Mr Varadkar’s admission as “shocking” as he laughed it off “as a joke”.

In a tweet he said: “Taoiseach privately interfered in planning process at behest of @realDonaldTrump to stop a Clare wind farm. He should have made that public earlier. 

“The council must outline who he talked to & what was said. Shocking he seem not to think all that’s wrong here. Treat it as a joke”.

Sinn Féin’s justice spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire told the BBC: “I cannot fathom how a taoiseach would almost brag about a story where he rang a local council as a government minister to make representations on behalf of an American billionaire businessman.”

Mr Varadkar is currently in Washington DC with the president for traditional St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. 

Upon welcoming the Taoiseach, President Trump said to reporters: “It’s my great honour to have the very popular Prime Minister of Ireland with us.

“We’re having some talks about trade, about military, about cyber and all of the other things.

“The relationship is outstanding and only getting better.

“It really is [Irish people] a very special group of people.

“A tremendous number of Irish are living in New York where I grew up, and living in the United States.”

Mr Varadkar presented Mr Trump with a bowl of shamrocks as tradition and celebrations are to last through the weekend.

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