Fears municipal golf course in Limerick could go private

RECREATION:  O'CEALLAIGH RAISES FEARS OVER FUTURE OF RATHBANE GOLF CLUB

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Fears municipal golf course in Limerick could go private

Limerick City and County Council has re-awarded the tender for Rathbane golf club to Mack Trading

THERE are fresh fears this week that Limerick’s only public golf course could be handed over to the private sector.

City East Sinn Fein councillor Séighin Ó Ceallaigh asked the local authority’s executive for an update on the current situation with Rathbane Golf Club at this month’s metropolitan district meeting.

He was told that a fresh tender was awarded to the previous operator Mack Trading in November 2016, and the contracts are currently with the council’s solicitors waiting to be signed. This comes in spite of the fact the same company tried to pull out of running the course back in 2014.

But for Cllr Ó Ceallaigh, this does not clear up the confusion.

“We have a lot of people who would use the course. For years, they have been dealing with uncertainty. I was talking to one person who told me that membership fees at the course have started to rise. It seems there is no clear direction at present,” the member said.

At present, the council funds the golf course – opened in 1998 – awarding the tender out to a private company.

But Cllr Ó Ceallaigh believes the course will probably go fully into private ownership eventually.

“On one side, you could see investment in the club, but on the other side, it will price a lot of people out. It’s a very affordable place at the moment,” he said.

He also warned that if private ownership does come to Rathbane, it is crucial those long-serving loyal members are not penalised.

“I think ultimately people want a bit of certainty to know they will continue to be able to play there for a long time to come. The site does need investment, but we also need to ensure those who have been loyal to the club for a long time are not priced out,” he added.

The council set aside around €500,000 in its budget for 2016 to maintain Rathbane Golf Club.