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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 January 2008, 13:24 GMT
Trump's man on scouting mission
Donald Trump
Donald Trump is still considering sites for his golf development
American billionaire Donald Trump has sent his top advisor to Northern Ireland to look at potential sites for his dream golf course.

Mr Trump's managing director for international development, George Sorial, will visit four locations on Thursday afternoon.

These have been identified as possible venues for the tycoon's billion-pound golf complex.

Mr Sorial said he had been very impressed with what he had seen in NI.

It is understood one of the locations is at Runkerry near Bushmills in north Antrim.

The 61-year-old entrepreneur had originally hoped to build what he claims will be the world's finest golf course in the north of Scotland.

However, Aberdeenshire Council's decision to reject his initial planning bid has forced him to contemplate alternatives.

The Scottish Executive is carrying out an inquiry on how the council handled the planning decision and the proposal could yet get the go-ahead.

However, Mr Sorial said that had no bearing on any plans for Northern Ireland.

"What goes on in Scotland has no impact on what we do in Northern Ireland and vice versa," he said.

"I was very impressed with what I saw in Northern Ireland.

"Mr Paisley has been very gracious about extending us an invitation to look at sites and has assured us that Northern Ireland is a great place to do business."

Nothing has been agreed and this is very much an exploratory trip, but if Donald Trump is going to invest in Northern Ireland he would certainly be welcome
Government source

Stormont First Minister Ian Paisley met Mr Trump during his visit to New York in December when the two discussed the possibility of bringing his course to Northern Ireland.

The business magnate is understood to have been impressed by the direct approaches to him from Mr Paisley and the executive.

A source close to Mr Paisley said the purpose of Mr Sorial's visit was "to carry out exploratory investigations".

"Nothing has been agreed and this is very much an exploratory trip but if Donald Trump is going to invest in Northern Ireland he would certainly be welcome," said the source.

"That would represent a huge boost to the economy and would prove the worth of the trip to America."

It is understood Mr Sorial will be one of the guests at a dinner hosted by Ian Paisley Jnr after Thursday's fact-finding mission.

Whether or not Mr Trump will be tempted to shift his plans across the Irish Sea is not clear.

We assured him that if he was going to pursue this, that this was the place to go to
Ian Paisley

On Wednesday, he lavished praise on Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond and described the planning issues in Aberdeen as a "little road block".

However, he made clear that he had received no assurances from Mr Salmond that the application would be given the green light.

Opposition assembly members in Scotland have accused the SNP-led government of trying to get the plan pushed through.

However, Mr Salmond told the Holyrood scrutiny committee that he has never used his role as first minister to influence the council's decision making process.



SEE ALSO
Trump golf complex welcome in NI
02 Dec 07 |  Northern Ireland
Trump's 1bn resort plan 'dead'
02 Dec 07 |  North East/N Isles
Trump's 1bn golf plan rejected
29 Nov 07 |  North East/N Isles

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