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*Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Martin Connolly

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been criticised by the people of Doonbeg for failing to meet US President Donald Trump in the Long Village.

Gerry Corbett is a native of Doonbeg but has lived in Wicklow for the past forty six years. He returns to Clare every year and did so this week along with his wife Angela specifically to soak up the atmosphere as the village welcomes a US President for the first time.

“It is different altogether with all the security, people must never feel so secure in rural Ireland with all the guards around the place,” he noted of the somewhat unfamiliar looking aspects to Doonbeg. “I come back every year and down more often if I can, I never lost touch with the village. Doonbeg was the place I grew up, I played football at all levels with Doonbeg, a great place for music, dancing and working in the bog which was the traditional thing growing up as a young fella”.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Gerry criticised Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for opting against meeting Donald Trump in Doonbeg. “I think it’s shameful our leader Mr Varadkar didn’t see it fit to come to Doonbeg to meet Mr Trump. It’s a great thing for the village and regardless of Mr Trump’s controversy, it’s all about jobs and keeping people in the village”.

When it came to Trump, Corbett was less critical. “He’s controversial in a lot of things but what leaders are not controversial”. He confirmed the view of Donald is much different in Wicklow and the capital compared to Co Clare. “Up around Dublin where I work you’d get some people who certainly wouldn’t entertain the man at all and then other people would have different views saying he’s great for America and the world”.

Since the Trump family purchased the local hotel in 2014, Gerry maintained more people have returned to live in Doonbeg. “There are a lot of changes in Doonbeg because there are more people coming back that immigrated to America and England over the years, the sign of this is when you see a lot of new houses in rural places which is fantastic to see and some fine houses which people worked hard for to come back and enjoy their years in retirement”.

Some locals were unsure if Donald would pay a visit to the village itself but Gerry was “certain” he would and outlined what conversation he would have if chatting to Mr Trump. “I’d be delighted to shake hands with the man and tell him to pump more money into the golf club and hotel”.

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