Wednesday 13 December 2017

TV review: Time for another round of guff with Donald Trump

Donald Trump swinging a golf club on the Menie Estate
Donald Trump swinging a golf club on the Menie Estate

FOR Irish viewers, one of the most nauseating scenes in Anthony Baxter’s documentary Dark Side of the Greens came in its closing moments and featured a surprise appearance by none other than Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

Ninety-year-old Scottish woman Molly Forbes — a veteran of the long battle to prevent Donald Trump building a luxury golf and hotel resort on an environmentally protected beach in Balmedie, Aberdeenshire — is watching a clip of the billionaire blowhard’s latest interview with Baxter.

Molly, who featured prominently in Baxter’s 2001 documentary You’ve Been Trumped, which told the full, outrageous story of how Trump tried to steamroll over anyone in Balmedie who dared stand in his way, said: “Poor Ireland. I hope they’ve been listening to this.”

Well, some of us have been listening since as far back as You’ve Been Trumped (which is on Netflix, by the way), but I’m not so sure Noonan has.

When Trump’s plan to add a hotel to his golf course in Balmedie was stymied, he simply turned his back on the location — although not before having wrought immense environmental damage — and turned his eyes on a course in Doonbeg in Clare, which he bought for redevelopment. It’s now called Trump International Golf Links and Hotel.

Baxter’s film ended with an excruciating clip of Noonan greeting Trump off his private jet at Shannon last year and gushing: “The fact that Donald Trump would visit Ireland with his family and endorse the investment, that’s great news!”



At the time, our starstruck Finance Minister was accused of “bowing and scraping” to Trump. I’ve no doubt that if Noonan had any hair, he’d have furiously tugged his forelock as well, and maybe treated Trump to a little jig and a “Top o’ the mornin’ to ya, sir!”

Dark Side of the Greens — which is actually a shorter, retitled cut of Baxter’s feature-length documentary A Dangerous Game — was, in part, a recap and update of the earlier film. We were reminded of how the gutless Alex Salmond, then Scotland’s First Minister, and local politicians, sided with Trump over their own people, and of Trump’s patented obnoxiousness.

Accompanied, absurdly, wherever he went by a brace of bagpipers, Trump pursued Molly Forbes, who’d sued him, for legal costs and vilified her son Michael, likening him to “a pig” who lived in “a sty”.

But Trump is not the only bully in the bunker. “There’s lots of Donald Trumps out there,” said environmentalist Robert F Kennedy, Jr.

In Dubrovnik in Croatia, Israeli billionaire Aaron Frenkel is trying to develop a billion-euro luxury resort designed by Greg Norman (who, in a sickening corporate video, talked about “accentuating the natural environment”), on historic Mount Srd, which towers over the walled city. Eighty percent of the city’s population voted against it in a legally binding referendum.

Dubrovnik’s mayor Andro Vlahusic simply decided to ignore the vote and give the project the go-ahead. When Baxter confronted Vlahusic, who was previously indicted on corruption charges but refused to resign, he dismissed Croatia’s referendum law as “stupid” and called Baxter’s questions “stupid” as well.

Mount Srd is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so the project has been blocked for now. But other communities worldwide are being trumped (with a small ‘T’), and the volume of water required to irrigate these exclusive patches of green for the rich is enough to supply 80pc of the planet’s population.

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