FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan has defended rolling out the red carpet for American billionaire Donald Trump in a welcome that included a musical trio.
Mr Trump arrived on Monday to inspect his recently acquired luxury golf course and resort in Doonbeg, Co Clare.
He promised to invest €45m and create hundreds of jobs at his Trump International Golf Links and Hotel.
It later emerged that some applicants for one of the jobs were being offered just €50 for a 40-hour week, on top of their dole, to work at the US tycoon’s five-star Irish resort.
The club has been using the controversial JobBridge scheme to recruit an operative for the stores department.
Mr Trump was serenaded by music trio Affinity as he stepped off his private Boeing 757 aircraft on to Irish soil.
Mr Noonan was on hand to personally welcome the controversial tycoon, who was afforded the full red-carpet treatment at Shannon Airport.
Speaking about the arrival, the minister hailed Mr Trump and defended the decision to provide a fawning welcome for The Donald’.
“Would there be criticism if it was an IDA factory that was going into west Clare with 300 jobs?” Mr Noonan asked.
“And this man says he’s going to spend at least double the purchase price for investment down there,” the minister told RTE radio’s News at One yesterday.
He added: “And he announced in Shannon - not only a project - a construction project, of very large dimensions costing a lot of money.
“But he’s also announced that he’s going to have commuter helicopters from Shannon down to the golf course and commuter helicopters from the golf course to the other golf courses he has in the UK.”
Mr Noonan said that he had no connection with Mr Trump.
“But I can assure you if it was the IDA that were bringing a factory into Clare and I was invited to go down there and there was 300 jobs in it, I’d be there,” he said.
Put to him that Mr Trump had not brought anything to Ireland yet, the minister said: “He has brought a lot in already.
“He’s consolidated a golf course that was in difficulty and he has a lot of people working down there as we speak and he’s going to increase that workforce.”
While here, Mr Trump said that he would be looking for other investments in Ireland.
“Ireland is a special place and I love Ireland,” he said.