The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has unanimously rejected a complaint by Friends of the Irish Environment against RTE’s Prime Time for failing to show the presence of the Minister for Finance at the red carpet greeting at Shannon Airport for Donald Trump in 2014.


In the complaint, lodged against the programme about the developer’s proposed sea wall at Doonbeg County Clare aired on Prime Time on 31 March, 2016, FIE said Prime Time concealed from its audience the relationship between the Minister for Finance and one of the world's wealthiest businessmen.


FIE held that by excising the Minister for Finance from the greeting, Prime Time undermined the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s [BAI] Code of Program Standards principle of public interest “that animates broadcasting and serves a democratic society”. 


The Minister for Finance also met with Trump’s son and daughter, Directors of the Doonbeg Trump International Resort, at the airport. Shannon Airport has refused to release any photographs of the event.


The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland concluded on 13 October 2016 that ‘nothing was omitted from the report which had a bearing on the debate on the planning proposals for the links and hotel.’


Trump was served with a Warning Notice by Clare County Council only three months before this event for his unauthorised attempt to build the sea wall.


‘While noting that the footage did not include any images depicting the greeting of Mr. Trump by the Minister for Finance, Mr. Michael Noonan, TD,’ BAI wrote, ‘it was the Committee’s view that the exclusion did not raise issues containing to fairness, objectivity or impartiality in news and current affairs or the public interest.’


‘Broadcasters as independent media organisations have appropriate freedom to decide the editorial approach to be taken to a subject matter’, they wrote. ‘While noting that the greeting of Mr. Trump by the Minister for Finance in 2014 was a matter of controversy, the focus of the programme broadcast in 2016 was the potential impact of the proposed sea wall and not the relationship between Irish business, the Irish State, and foreign investment. In that context, it is the Committee’s view that the exclusion of footage of Minister Noonan meeting Mr. Trump did not give rise to any issues provided for in BAI’s codes or the Broadcasting Act.’


A statement from FIE said: ‘Whether it was correct or not for the Minister to meet with a developer who had been served a Warning Letter by the local authority and was in legal correspondence with them is a matter for debate.’


‘But what is indisputable is that the public has the right to know when Ministers meet with developers. The BAI Code speaks of the “genuine interests of citizens and others who live in this state; their capacity fully to understand the way in which public life is conducted; and their entitlement to the fullest range of information to assist them in their choices and decisions they will make in their lives and the in the conduct of our democracy.”


‘RTE in fact denied us our entitlement to the fullest range of information about the conduct of our democracy and deliberately undermined the public’s ability to fully understand the way in which public life is being conducted in Ireland.’




Verification: Tony Lowes 353 (0)27 74771   / 353 (0)87 2176316


Decision letter


BAI Complaint Decisions 27 October 2016 [Full History]


44,000 people have visited our explanatory video of Trumps proposed wall at Doonbeg over the summer. Why don’t you?



From Tomorrow 1 November

‘Hear The One About Donald Trump Losing a Campaign To a Snail’

Walking The Earth is a literary expedition designed to share extraordinary places and people on our planet that are worth protecting and supporting. Each story centers around walking as a human activity that has linked people and places throughout time across the globe around the world.




Photo: Limerick Leader Saturday, May 17, 2014


Photo: Sean Curtan





The confirmation by the courts that the Edenderry Power plant permission should have considered the indirect impacts of the extraction of 1.2 million tons of peat a year vindicated environmentalists’ legal challenges to the continued operation of the plant.

The challenges to the permission to extend the life of the plant beyond 2016, taken in 2014, resulted in the final quashing of the permission last week by Justice Michael White. A stay on the order, which requires the decommissioning of the plant, has been granted by the Courts until April 2017 in order that a ‘fall back’ application for its continuance may be considered by An Bord Pleanala.

However, while admitting An Taisce’s case that indirect effects of the extraction of the fuel should have been considered as part of the environmental impact assessment [EIA] required by law, he ruled against FIE who brought a parallel case over the failure to consider the impacts through Appropriate Assessment [AA] under the Habitats Directive.

The argument advanced by An Bord Pleanala to grant permission without an AA was that the burden of proof rested on FIE to show the potential impacts the extraction of this peat would have on areas protected by the Habitats Directive. Justice White upheld this view. But this is the basis of Irish criminal law [‘incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negative’ - the burden of proof rests on the accuser, not on the defence].

The requirement under European law is that the competent authority (An Bord Pleanala in this case) must itself rule out any potential impacts on the best available scientific evidence. This test is detailed in Article 6 of the Habitats Directive and in numerous European Court of Justice rulings.

In order to discharge the onus of proof, best scientific advice is the only advice that can overturn the presumption against Development that arises on Sites that are subject to the Habitats Directive.

In fact Bord na Mona’s [the national agency for peat extraction and power] ‘fall back application’ to the planning authorities does consider the impacts of peat extraction under both the EIA and AA regimes in the knowledge that they were likely to be required to do so by our challenges.

And yet FIE will be obliged to seek leave to appeal the Court’s ruling or seek to have the matter referred to the European Court for advice for an issue that is as plain as nose on the Honourable Justice’s face. We lost our case because we failed to prove adverse impact when the law does not require us to do so. [Our attempt to do this in the course of the case was ruled inadmissible by Justice White since only matters that were available to the Appeals Board at the time could be considered!)

FIE was one of a group of Irish environmentalists who took a petition in 2000 to the European Parliament opposing the construction of these new power plants in Ireland. Now, 15 years later, in spite of all our efforts, we are being told we must wait another 15 years – until 2030 – before the closure of these plants.

See FIE’s other work, including satellite and aerial surveys of sites of hundreds of hectares of unauthorised industrial extraction from raised bogs’ Have a look at our other legal and administrative challenges – including dramatic photographs - which have led to soon to be announced Government proposals to exempt large scale  peat extraction from planning controls, now that we have proved they planning permission is required. Be careful what you ask for.


Contact: Tony Lowes 353 (0)27 74771 / 353 (0) 87 2176316

FIE Edenderry AA Judgment

FIE High Court Edenderry Judgement 14th October 2016

Background Information

Peat Slide Show

SAC Aerial Survey

National Study - Satellite Survey

The Lodge at Doonbeg is one of the most highly praised resorts in Europe.

It attracts visitors from across the globe for its scenic views of Ireland's Atlantic coast and, most importantly, for its celebrated golf course.

Since February 2014, the resort has been owned by Trump International, who scooped it up after the previous owners reportedly became unable to afford the necessary repairs from a particularly harsh winter.

"We’re going to reshape it and make it one of the greatest golf courses in the world," Trump said at the time.

Trump's first order of business? Build up the part of the golf course that runs along the beach.

An officially protected "special area of conservation," Doonbeg's Doughmore Beach had already lost more than 30 feet of its legendary dunes to erosion due to rising sea levels.

So Trump's sons Eric and Donald Jr. gave the go-ahead to move some massive boulders on the sand at the edge of the property — without bothering to get the proper construction clearance first.

As you can imagine, that didn't go over well. Local officials put a stop to the un-permitted rock wall quickly.

So the Trumps responded by ... threatening to build an even bigger wall.

It's a classic Trump negotiation tactic: If we have to ask permission to drop a few big boulders on your beloved beach, then we might as well go all the way and spend millions of dollars on a200,000-ton rock wall that's almost two miles long and 15 feet tall.

"It seems a very heavy-handed approach," David Flynn of the local West Clare Surf Club told theIrish Examiner. "We are not anti-development and we had a very good relationship with the golf club since 2002, but what they are planning is a quantum leap from previous proposals."

When the Trumps filed a permit application with the Clare County Council about building the wall, they used climate change to justify the project.

According to Politico's review of the application's environmental impact statement prepared by an Irish environmental consultancy, it said in part (emphasis added):

"If the predictions of an increase in sea level rise as a result of global warming prove correct, however, it is likely that there will be a corresponding increase in coastal erosion rates not just in Doughmore Bay but around much of the coastline of Ireland. [...] The existing erosion rate will continue and worsen, due to sea level rise, in the next coming years, posing a real and immediate risk to most of the golf course frontage and assets."

Basically, they argued that this giant wall is necessary in order prevent additional damage from rising sea levels, which are caused by global warming and only getting worse.

Keep in mind that Trump blamed the struggles of his Scottish golf resort on "bird-killingwind farms. He has vowed to renegotiate the already-lackluster Paris Climate Accord if elected president. His proposed energy plan refers to a nonexistent thing called "clean coal." And he has previously said that climate change is, "just a very, very expensive form of tax."

And then he specifically cited global warming as the reason why he needed to build an ugly rock wall to protect his treasured Irish golf resort.

This is, of course, incredibly maddening logic. But it's about the environment too.

Rising water levels and erosion are real problems, and seawalls can in fact help mitigate some potential harm to coastal communities. In that regard, Trump's appeal actually makes sense. But according to Friends of the Irish Environment, a proposed 15-foot wall around one specific part of the beach could seriously interfere with Doughmore's ecosystem.

The reverb from Trump's ginormous wall could affect the natural cycle of the dunes and vegetation, hurting not only the rare creatures that live in that pristine environment, but also ruining the beach's reputation as a stunning vista and surf destination. By deflecting the winds and tides, the wall could also cause greater flooding damage to occur along other parts of the coast — where the local people, many of whom work at the resort, have to live.

Oh, and if the wall doesn't get built? Trump has already threatened to close the resort and devastate the local economy.

Tourism is a multibillion-industry for the Republic of Ireland, and the people of Doonbeg are essentially being held hostage in a catch-22: either Trump's giant wall gets built and the locals lose their beloved beach while bearing the brunt of flooding damage, or 350 people lose their jobs immediately, with the rest of the community suffering as a result of that lost income.

"The fear of our friends and neighbours losing work is very scary," explained an administrator from the Save Doughmore Beach Facebook page, in an interview with Magic Seaweed. "We are in no way trying to close the hotel and golf course, we are just asking for some ethical business practices and some sound environment practices."

This whole situation is essentially a microcosm of what Trump stands for and how he gets his way.

We've seen him use wealth and status to bully the little guy, while willfully denying the facts of reality just to make some cash. And now he's employing those same manipulative, strong-arm negotiation tactics in a pissing match over environmental issues and the interests of a small community.

It's possible to build coastal protections that don't also damage the environment.

It's possible to build a resort that provides hundreds of jobs without taking over the entire community, impeding their access to public property, and essentially creating an economic throwback to feudal sharecropping.

It's possible to compromise and still make a profit, to provide good services in good faith that make the world a better place and also keep the money coming.

But Trump's modus operandi has always been the same: He'll say that climate change is a hoax at the same time that he builds an ivory tower to protect himself from its effects, while also abandoning his own workers to live with worsened water threats and no choice but to just keep working for the man who got them into that situation in the first place.

That's not the kind of person that I want to see in the White House.

October 17, 2016


By Thom Dun




An opportunity for the Midlands to go green and to embrace ‘renewables’

Since Bord na Móna was set up in 1933 as the Turf Development Board, many thousands of acres of raised bog in the midlands have been harvested for use as fuel for power stations as well as peat briquettes and garden compost. But that era is coming to an end, hastened by a High Court judgment quashing a decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission for the peat-fired power station in Edenderry, Co Offaly, to continue in operation until 2023.

Ruling in favour of An Taisce, which had sought a judicial review of the appeals board’s decision, Mr Justice Michael White found that it had “completely excluded consideration of the indirect effects” on the environment of burning up to 1.2 million tonnes of peat per annum, in its deliberations on whether the life of the power plant should be extended.

A stay was placed on the court order until next April, to allow An Bord Pleanála to adjudicate on appeals by An Taisce and Friends of the Irish Environment against a fresh planning application to extend the life of the plant. But whether or not this latest effort succeeds, the writing is on the wall for peat as an indigenous Irish energy resource.

Bord na Móna has announced that it will stop harvesting peat for energy use in 2030 and move towards more environmentally sustainable activities, including solar and wind power. Given that burning turf is even more damaging to the climate than burning other fossil fuels, environmentalists have argued that it should stop even sooner, by 2020, if Ireland is to have any chance of meeting EU short- to medium-term targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The High Court’s decision to overturn planning permission for the continued operation of Bord Na Móna’s Edenderry plant has clear implications for other peat-fired power stations in the midlands, putting much-needed jobs at risk; already, trade have warned that the State-owned company must not seek compulsory redundancies from the 180 staff employed at Edenderry.


However, as Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has said, the court ruling “gives us a chance to change tack and to turn away from this most polluting form of power generation for good”. In that context, Bord na Móna should be urgently assessing alternative uses for its 125,000 acres of largely cutaway bog in the midlands. Given that there are few houses in the vicinity, the most obvious prospect is wind energy, with a concentration of turbines and even solar arrays that would be removed from where people live.


A Government decision is also needed on the future of the ESB’s coal-fired power station at Moneypoint, on the Shannon Estuary, which is Ireland’s largest single source of carbon dioxide emissions, easily eclipsing Edenderry.

Reprinted from Sat, Oct 31, 2015

The European Commission has written to Ireland seeking information about a river bank clearance undertaken by the Office of Public Works [OPW]. The work, associated with the Bandon River (Dunmanway) Drainage Scheme, was undertaken at the end of September, 2015.


More than 340 metres of riverbank was ‘significantly damaged’ according to an expert Report commissioned by the OPW in a subsequent investigation of the incident. The bank in question is adjacent to the Long Bridge in Dunmanway where the Bandon River hosts a ‘dense colony’ of the protected fresh water pearl mussel shaded by a protected woodland. The Report recorded ‘large quantities of loose mobile soil and bank collapse’.


The document, which Friends of the Irish Environment obtained under Access to Information on the Environment, details ‘removal of riparian trees and vegetation and disturbance of the ground resulting in the presence of large amounts of loose soil that may be easily eroded and transported into the adjacent mussel habitat’. It concluded that the ‘mussel habitat had been negatively impacted’ with mussels ‘likely to suffer mortalities’.


It is accompanied by numerous photographs of the clearance of the protected woodland. Subsequent site visits by the NPWS show the ‘complete overwhelming’ of the silt fences erected to ‘mitigate’ the work and control pollution by the OPW.


FIE provided the Report to the European Commission and has now made it available on their website. The Commission recently informed FIE that they had written to Ireland on 5 September 2016 seeking an explanation of the incident and of ‘what has been done on the basis of this report’.


A spokesman for the organisation said that this report was timely, coming as it does when pressure is growing to allow dredging of the Bandon River on the basis of emergency powers bypassing EU nature conservation legislation.


FIE Director Tony Lowes said that the Report ‘highlighted the dangers to the environment of the OPW’s highly interventionist approach to urban flooding which emphasises hard landscape measures over catchment management and soft measures.


‘The disastrous approach demonstrated in this Report is being replicated in the flood management schemes across the country through the OPW’s Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) project. This Report provides graphic photographs of the River overwhelming entirely the fences put in place to control silt and hessian mats placed to control erosion. The OPW’s current flood control plans rely on the assumption that these ‘mitigation measures’ will work.

This experience on the Bandon River demonstrates these assumptions are not valid’, he said.


FIE has also written to the Minister Heather Humphries highlighting the concerns expressed by NPWS officials in internal emails who felt that this case highlighted the ‘complicated legal framework’ which ‘surely needs improving’.


View the Photographic Report    /    Read the Report    /    And the Letter to the Minister