Clare man wins legal fight for right-of-way at Donald Trump golf course

Judge said it appeared ‘Trump has no interest in extinguishing the right-of-way’

Doonbeg Golf Course in Co Clare.

Doonbeg Golf Course in Co Clare.

 

A dispute over a public right-of-way at a golf course in Co Clare owned by a company of US presidential candidate Donald Trump has been resolved, the Supreme Court heard on Thursday.

Trump International Golf Links (TIGL) bought Doonbeg Golf Course and Hotel in 2014 when it went into receivership.

Prior to this, local resident James McNulty had brought a legal challenge to a decision of Clare Co Council to extinguish a right-of-way through the course to the beach. It arose when Clare county councillors voted 22 to three in September 2009 to extinguish the right of way, ending the public’s ability to walk across the fourth and 14th fairways.

In 2011, the High Court dismissed his challenge because it was not brought within prescribed time limits. The court also held there was nothing wrong with the council’s proposal to have an alternative means of access from the public road to the beach as part of its decision to extinguish the right of way.

Mr McNulty appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

The court heard on Thursday, however, that the council has since decided it was not going ahead with the process of extinguishing the right-of-way.

James Connolly SC, for the council, said there had been no response from the new owners, TIGL, to the extinguishment proposal.

Mr Justice Frank Clarke, on behalf of the three-judge court, said in view of the council’s decision, the appeal was now moot, or pointless.

The only issue now was the legal costs in the High and Supreme Courts.

The county council was prepared to allow the High Court costs order to be vacated and Mr McNulty would not pursue those (High Court) costs, the judge noted.

However, Conleth Bradley SC, for Mr McNulty, sought the costs of the appeal, in view of the fact the case became moot because of the action of the council in deciding not to proceed with the extinguishment.

Mr Connolly, for the council, opposed the application for costs because the sale of the golf course was outside the control of his client. The work on the alternative access to the beach, a condition of the extinguishment of the right of way, was a matter for a third party, not the council.

Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne asked Mr Connolly why something was not done to have the legal proceedings dealt with sooner, given that it was well known the course had been sold to a company of “the person who has been attracting so much attention lately.”

Mr Connolly replied the council were not in communication with the Trump company at that stage, but, later, in 2015, when it did get in touch there was no response.

Mr Justice Clarke said it appeared “Trump has no interest in extinguishing the right of way”.

Mr Justice Clarke, following consultation with his colleagues, ordered that the costs of the the appeal be awarded in favour of Mr McNulty. He said this was a case in which a unilateral action by the council had resulted in the case being rendered moot and Mr McNulty was entitled to the costs of the appeal.

The court also struck out the case and vacated the High Court costs order against Mr McNulty.