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Doonbeg locals staying tight-lipped as America goes to the polls to choose between Trump & Biden

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*Photograph: Martin Connolly

American voters will decide on Tuesday whether West Clare hotelier Donald Trump remains in the White House or if Joe Biden will replace him as US President.

As of Wednesday morning, more than 70 million people had cast their ballots in the presidential election. A tally from the US Elections Project noted that this was over half the total turnout of the 2016 election when the Republican candidate defeated former First Lady Hilary Clinton.

There appears to be a record-breaking pace in the tally which could potentially lead to the highest voter turnout in percentage terms in more than a century.

In 2014, Donald Trump purchased a five star golf resort in Doonbeg which is now named Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Doonbeg Ireland. Since he took over, a €5m redesign of the golf course has been unveiled while planning headaches have been a constant as the Trumps struggled to build coastal protection works at Doughmore.

At the peak of the season, 305 people are employed at the West Clare resort with the investment of the Trump family deeply appreciated by the people of Doonbeg. The late parish priest, Fr Joe Haugh famously told this paper that there was a place in heaven for Donald Trump. Mr Trump sent a letter of condolence to the Haugh family in May of this year following Joe’s death.

His Vice President, Mike Pence remarkably also has links to the long village. Pence’s great-grandmother hails from Doonbeg while his distant cousin Hugh McNally runs Morrissey’s Pub in the village noted for its exploits on the football field and annual drama festival.

Democratic challenger, Joe Biden also has Irish links but none in the Banner County. His great-grandfather, James Finnegan, emigrated from Louth as a child, in 1850. All eight of his great-great-grandparents on his mother’s side was born in Ireland during, the first half of the 19th century. On his father’s side, two great-grandparents were also born in Ireland.

Involved in US politics since the 1970s, the Pennsylvania man was most notably Vice President to Barack Obama and was a Senator from 1973 to 2009. He has regularly quoted the poetry of Seamus Heaney in public addresses. He is marginally ahead of Trump according to the latest polls.

Talk of the US Presidential election is not dominating the conversation in Doonbeg this week. One business owner told The Clare Echo that the political event had been “forgotten” in the village given current Level 5 restrictions on account of COVID-19 and the ensuing stress it has caused for various enterprises.

“We’d prefer not to get involved in the politics but what I will say is the Trump family have made a fantastic investment in Doonbeg and have brought jobs to West Clare which have become very scarce,” one local publican told The Clare Echo.

Locals are very appreciative of the investment and jobs held in the area largely due to the continued support of the Trump family. They are also reticent to speak on the record when it comes to US politics after receiving ‘hurtful’ backlash online and through letters over the past year for praising the input of the Trump family to the West Clare economy.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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