THE BUNCH of wealthy Yanks who have poured tens of millions into the Doonbeg Golf Club must be relieved that its losses are finally slowing down. A nasty and long-running planning row — which has ended up with Emily O’Reilly in the Ombudsman’s office — will keep them sweating for a while longer, however.
It will be recalled (see The Phoenix 14/7/06) that Clare County Council gave the wrong information about the deadline for planning objections to David McNamara, a local opponent of the lavish resort. The Council therefore rejected McNamara’s objection — which prevented him from going to An Bord Pleanala - and the bolshy local took his complaint to Emily O’Reilly who concluded that the Council made “a number of errors”.
O’Reilly will in the coming weeks decide how much compensation the Council will have to pay McNamara. The amounts here are small but the bigger picture is the legal challenge that McNamara will take on foot of the Ombudsman’s report — either a judicial review of the decision to grant planning permission to Doonbeg or an action against the Council itself.
The cash for the Greg Norman-designed course and the luxury suites surrounding it is in Doonbeg Investment Holding Company Ltd (DIH), where Charles ‘Buddy’ Darby, Leonard Long Jr, Patrick McKinney and Townsend P Clarkson are directors, each with South Carolina addresses. The four are well-known in US golfing circles for their development of the plush Kiawah Island course in their home state, which will play host to the US PGA Tour in 2012.
KEA Doonbeg LLC - DIH’s US-based parent company — has been piling more and more cash into the golf club, contributing €5m in 2003 and over €lOm in 2004, before lashing in a whopping €13m in 2005, making a total investment of no less than €48m by the end of 2005.
DIH became the Irish holding company in 2005 and the various Doonbeg businesses no longer file their own accounts, although Doonbeg Golf Club Ltd lost €3.2m during the year to the end of March 2004 and was carrying a deficit of €16m before it became consolidated.
© The Phoenix