Donald Trump has insisted he has not snubbed Ireland amid reports his transatlantic trip to his golf resorts has been cut short.
The billionaire challenger for the US presidency announced to great fanfare 10 days ago that he would fly into the renowned Doonbeg golf links in Co Clare late next week after visiting his investments in Scotland.
But the west of Ireland stop-off was believed to have been cut when the outspoken tycoon’s travel schedule was released on Tuesday.
It included flight plans in and out of Prestwick and Aberdeen for the large media contingent expected to accompany him on a two day whistle-stop tour from Thursday June 23 – just as the UK and the rest of Europe comes to terms with the result of the EU referendum.
But the itinerary was stripped of any mention of Ireland, where Mr Trump’s comments about banning Muslims from visiting the US and building a wall on the border with Mexico have been branded racist and dangerous.
Amid the on-off, maybe on again rumours, Mr Trump’s office in New York said the Doonbeg leg of the trip was still being worked on.
“It is purely a scheduling issue and we still hope to make a stop in Ireland if time allows. The details of Mr Trump’s itinerary have not been finalised,” a spokeswoman for the Trump Organisation said.
Staff at Mr Trump’s luxurious Doonbeg hotel and golf resort said they heard the rumours that the trip had been cancelled but it is understood neither had they received any formal instructions for his arrival.
Nor had the local Shannon Airport, but it is not unusual for aviation chiefs to be given just a few hours notice of a VIP.
Mr Trump’s visit is also expected to clash with US Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Ireland, an uncomfortable coincidence for the governments in Dublin and Washington.
After the tycoon bought Doonbeg for about 15 million euro and visited in 2014, the red carpet was rolled out for him with Finance Minister Michael Noonan among dignitaries who waited on the tarmac in Shannon to shake his hand.
Mr Trump vowed to invest up to 45 million euro at his Irish resort, a renowned links overlooking the Atlantic.
But his plans to protect the delicate dunes from increasingly severe winter storms have been disrupted and planners are currently considering his proposals for a wall – this time to keep out the advancing sea.
The defence or revetment would be made up of 200,000 tonnes of boulders on a 2.8km (1.7-mile) stretch of Doughmore beach, an environmentally sensitive stretch of coast which is home to a prehistoric, microscopic snail.
There is also a right of way for surfers through the course.
Protests have been planned for his arrival, including by leading left wing and green politicians along with other campaigners.
It is not clear what reception if any will be laid on for him in government circles this time after Taoiseach Enda Kenny made a damning criticism of his attitudes to immigration and branded some comments from the presidential campaign as “racist and dangerous”.
Diplomatically, government officials would only say that their understanding was that the developer-turned-politician was planning to visit in a personal capacity and he would be wished a pleasant stay.