Doonbeg local says ‘whingers’ killed plan for Trump sea wall

It ‘beggars belief’ that community is not given support to fight coastal erosion

A relative of US vice president-elect Mike Pence has said it beggars belief that the Doonbeg, Co Clare community has not been afforded the same level of support as others facing the threat of coastal erosion.

Hugh McNally, a publican and restaurant owner, was speaking after it emerged that Donald Trump’s organisation had withdrawn a planning application for a €10 million rock barrier near the US president-elect’s golf resort in Doonbeg.

Mr McNally said he was disappointed for the Trump organisation and the local community “given the investment, expertise and effort put into the plan and the overwhelming local support for the project”.

Mr Pence is a nephew of Mr McNally's grand-aunt, and the Doonbeg man said that contractors for Clare County Council were currently placing tens of thousands of tonnes of rock armour to protect the beach at Lahinch.


“This shows the necessity of coastal protection works. It beggars belief that in Doonbeg, we are not afforded the same level of support,” he said.

Scientific evidence

Trump International Golf Links withdrew its plan for a 200,000-tonne rock barrier for Doughmore beach after the council stated it did not have sufficient scientific evidence to allow it conclude the barrier would not adversely impact on the EU-designated


Dunes Special Area of Conservation (SAC) at the site.

The golf resort is to lodge revised plans for coastal protection works which have been scaled down from the original 2.8km to an area about one-third the size. The plans will not be visible to the public.

Doonbeg farmer John Flanagan had previously described the €10 million plan as "a gift" to the community facing the threat of coastal erosion. On Wednesday he described those who objected to the rock barrier from outside Doonbeg as "whingers".

“It is the local people here who are faced with the threat of coastal erosion and it is local people who should be listened to – not people in Cork or Dublin who are not in danger of being washed out.”

Protected snail

He added: “These people are saying ‘save Doughmore’ and ‘protect Doughmore’ – they don’t even know where Doughmore is on the map.”

Mr Flanagan said the protected conservation areas at the dunes containing the protected snail, the Vertigo angustior, were now in danger of being washed away by the ocean without the rock barrier in place.

Tony Lowes of Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), who has been a vocal opponent of the rock barrier, said opponents were not "whingers" but actually have "the same interests at heart: a vibrant golf course in a vibrant sand dune system".

“Ironically, the wall – or revetment – as first proposed would have ended the growth of the dunes and so led to the extinction of the snail.”

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times