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Trump caught between Clare and Ayr as he mulls over visit

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Donald Trump and Leo Varadkar

Donald Trump and Leo Varadkar

Donald Trump and Leo Varadkar

US President Donald Trump will visit his golf resort in the west of Ireland or one of his Scottish courses if he fancies playing a round during his trip to Europe in June.

The Herald understands that uncertainty remains over whether he will visit Ireland as the White House is also considering the west of Scotland as a destination.

There has been intense speculation that Mr Trump will make a stop at his hotel and golf resort at Doonbeg, Co Clare, while he is in Europe for D-Day commemorations in France and a state visit to Britain.

Special

He revealed his intention to come here during Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's visit to Washington for St Patrick's Day festivities.

"I'll be coming at some point during the year. I missed it last time, but I would have loved to have been there. It's a special place," he said.

Mr Trump also said he has a "warm spot" for Doonbeg, which he described as "just a great place".

Advance teams of White House officials and Secret Service agents are due in Clare this week to assess logistics and security arrangements.

However, they are also set to visit Turnberry in Ayrshire - which has hosted the Open Championship four times - to scope out a possible visit there.

A Washington source said a decision will not be taken on the location or timing of any visit until next week at the earliest.

Mr Trump bought the Doonbeg resort in 2014 for a reported €15m.

When he visited later that year, he was greeted by then Finance Minister Michael Noonan and a group of traditional musicians at Shannon Airport, where a red carpet had been rolled out.

There were protesters at the perimeter of the Trump Turnberry golf course when Mr Trump played a round there last year during a visit to the UK.

He can also expect to face protests in Ireland.

Michael Gubbins, the garda chief superintendent for the Clare Division, has said it will be a "fairly big security operation" if the president does visit.

He told Clare FM that there is a "right to protest" and demonstrations will be allowed to take place.

Invitation

Mr Gubbins was previously part of the teams that organised security for Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth in 2011.

"When those people come to town there's a lot of security around and we'll be well able for it here in Co Clare," he said.

The Government has said there is a long-standing invitation for Mr Trump to visit Ireland, and he has indicated that he hopes to do so some time this year.

However, a spokesperson said the Government has not had any indication that he is considering visiting in June.