Leo Varadkar slammed for attempting to privately help Trump fight construction of windfarm in Clare
The comments were made during the Taoiseach's annual St. Patrick's visit to the States.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has come under heavy criticism for comments that he made on US president Donald Trump's Doonbeg Golf Links resort in county Clare.
Speaking during a lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, Varadkar brought up a story about the time when he and Trump privately interacted prior to their respective roles as president and Taoiseach.
He said that Trump had raised concerns about a series of windfarms that were due to be constructed in the area, after Trump purchased the resort back in February 2014.
At the time the Minister for Tourism, Varadkar said he received a phonecall from Trump, who the Taoiseach recalled as having said:
"There's a problem nearby. Somebody was trying to build a wind farm and that, of course, could have a real impact on tourism and the beauty of the landscape.
"I endeavoured to do what I could do about it," the Taoiseach continued. "The planning permission was declined and the wind farm was never built. thus the landscape being preserved."
"The president has very kindly given me credit for that. I have to say it probably would have been refused anyway."
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 15, 2018
The comments were described as being off-the-cuff by members of Fine Gael, however, leaders of the Opposition have criticised Varadkar's involvement in Trump's business affairs.
Fianna Fail leader, Micheal Martin took to Twitter to voice his disapproval, saying: "Taoiseach needs to be more transparent in relation to his intervention with Clare County Council on behalf of President Trump regarding a planning application for a wind farm.
"Who did he ring? What was the nature of the intervention?"
Taoiseach needs to be more transparent in relation to his intervention with Clare County Council on behalf of President Trump regarding a planning application for a wind farm . Who did he ring? What was the nature of the intervention?
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) March 15, 2018
Meanwhile Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said: "He should have made that public earlier."
"The council must outline who he talked to and what he said. Shocking he seems not to see all that's wrong here. Treats it as a joke."
Taoiseach privately interfered in planning process at behest of @realDonaldTrump to stop a Clare wind farm. He should have made that public earlier. The council must outline who he talked to & what was said. Shocking he seems not to see all that's wrong here. Treats it as a joke. https://t.co/12zXZLMAol
— Eamon Ryan (@EamonRyan) March 15, 2018
Clare County Council has since released a statement, in which it confirmed that the planning application was received on 15 August 2014.
The statement went on to note that all of the relevant representations, objections and observations are available to view on the planning file and council website.
"There is no representation by Leo Varadkar, the then Minister for Tourism and Sport, or any Elected Members on this planning file.
"The decision on 8th October 2014 by Clare County Council to refuse this planning application was subsequently appealed to An Bord Pleanala.
"Following consideration of the appeal, An Bord Pleanala upheld the decision by Clare County Council and refused permission for the proposed development."
— Clare County Council (@ClareCoCo) March 15, 2018