Doonbeg's good news hardly worth the bowing and scraping
There’s talk of further investment but so far, that’s all Donald Trump has done
Couldn’t have mustered a good healthy cloudburst, no? Couldn’t have found a nice, squally west-of-Ireland special with rain coming in sideways just as Donald Trump came down the steps of his 757 at Shannon Airport? Trust the poxy Irish weather to decide to hold off just this once.
Nothing against the man himself. Trump has been out there for a long time and he’s been wealthy beyond words for most of it. Like the queen assuming that the world smells of paint because every room she walks into has just been given a fresh coat, he likely imagines that all airports come with red carpets and fawning politicians and musical turns appropriate to the locale. You can be sure he saw nothing yesterday morning that surprised him.
How depressing. The preposterous welcome conferred upon a man who has done nothing more than help himself to a cut-price property deal was the worst kind of forelock-tugging. Trump has bought a landmark golf resort for €15 million, one that was valued at five times that just last summer. There’s talk of further investment and more development on the site in Doonbeg but so far, that’s all he’s done.
Yet there stood Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, with nothing better to do on a Monday morning. And a committee of local dignitaries lined up for handshakes as a harpist, a violinist and a singer had their welcome drowned out by the steady background whirr of Trump’s jet engine.
Pick a jobs announcement, any jobs announcement. Pick a big one, like that one a few months back when PayPal said they’d be bringing 1,000 jobs to Dundalk. Where was PayPal’s red carpet? Their haunting balladeer? Nowhere to be seen. It was a room in the Merrion with the Taoiseach at the top table and a few rows of chairs laid out in front. That’s how these things are done.
Except when the man with the money has been on the telly. Ireland didn’t greet Donald Trump yesterday as a businessman, we greeted him as a celebrity. We confirmed that the only thing that makes us go weaker at the knees than a minted visitor is a famous minted visitor.
And you don’t get much more wealthy or well-known than Donald Trump. Forbes has him pitched at being worth just short of $4 billion, although he himself says it is more like $7 billion. Whatever the number, it’s the sort of scratch that makes his golf investments here, in Scotland and across America a relatively small part of his empire.