The Taoiseach has been severely criticised after revealing today that he contacted Clare County Council four years ago about a planning matter following a call from US President Donald Trump.

Leo Varadkar, who was then Minister for Tourism, said today that he had approached the local authority after Mr Trump had phoned him directly.

It centred on a planning application for a wind farm close to the Doonbeg resort in Co Clare that had been purchased by Mr Trump in 2014, three years before he became the 45th US president.

The planning application was ultimately refused, but the Taoiseach has told reporters in Washington that the US president gives him credit for that decision.

"I endeavoured to do what I could do about it. I rang the county council and inquired about the planning permission and subsequently the planning permission was declined and the wind farm was never built, thus the landscape had been preserved."

"And the president has very kindly given me credit for that, although I do think it probably would have been refused anyway but I'm very happy to take credit for it, if the president is going to offer it to me," said Mr Varadkar.

Clare County Council has said it does not have any record or recollection of Mr Varadkar making an inquiry about a planning application for a proposed wind farm four years ago.

In a statement the council said the Planning Application was received on 15 August 2014.

It reads: "All representations, objections and observations made in relation to this and all other planning applications are available to view on the planning file and the Clare County Council website. There is no representation by Leo Varadkar, the then Minister for Tourism and Sport, or any Elected Member on this planning file.

"The decision on 8 October 2014 by Clare County Council to refuse this planning application was subsequently appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

"Following consideration of the appeal, An Bord Pleanála upheld the decision by Clare County Council and refused permission for the proposed development," the statement said.

Responding to the statement from the council, a spokesperson for the Taoiseach said: "The Minister asked his office to make an inquiry as to the status of the application. This is the normal work of a Minister’s office."

Sinn Féin's justice spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said: "I cannot fathom how an Taoiseach would almost brag about a story where he rang a local council as a government minister to make representations on behalf of an American billionaire businessman.

"It is entirely unacceptable for a minister to be engaging in back-channel negotiations in the private business interests of Donald Trump or anyone else."


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The Green Party described the call as a shocking error of judgement and called on the council to release the record of who Mr Varadkar spoke to and what was said.

Party leader Eamon Ryan said it harked back to the very dark days in the Irish planning system, where political interference ensured that the rich and powerful got what they wanted.

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin said the intervention was extraordinary and inappropriate.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said: "Regardless of whether the Taoiseach's call to the council had any impact or not, his intervention shows a serious lack of judgment."

The Taoiseach’s spokesperson said this evening: "As Minister for Tourism, Leo Varadkar received a call from Donald Trump regarding a wind farm proposal near Doonbeg, which is a significant tourism asset on the west coast.

"It’s normal for ministers to seek information on planning applications when issues are raised by citizens, businesses or investors."

"This matter has been mentioned publicly on many occasions by the Taoiseach. It was not a court case or judicial matter."