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Dunmurry shut as vulture funds put others at risk

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There appears to be no future for Dunmurry Springs which has now closed and will be taken over by a vulture fund on January 11 (stock photo)

There appears to be no future for Dunmurry Springs which has now closed and will be taken over by a vulture fund on January 11 (stock photo)

There appears to be no future for Dunmurry Springs which has now closed and will be taken over by a vulture fund on January 11 (stock photo)

Seapoint Golf Links is one of several high-profile clubs with its loans in the hands of a vulture fund after they were sold off by banks.

The news emerged just hours after Dunmurry Springs Golf Club in Co Kildare closed its gates yesterday after its €1.3 million debt was sold off by AIB.

AIB is understood to have completed a loan book sale of non-performing exposures (NPEs) which is believed to include several high-profile clubs, including at least three more in the Leinster area.

What the future holds for Seapoint, which had restructured some of its €3.8 million debt, remains to be seen after AIB sold its debts to Everyday Finance which is acting for the vulture fund, Cerberus.

However, there appears to be no future for Dunmurry Springs which has now closed and will be taken over by a vulture fund on January 11.

"We received a letter from the vulture fund on Friday and we were all let go this morning," said Eddie Lonergan, Director of Golf at Dunmurry Springs, which had just 200 members and only five staff.

"AIB sold on the debt to the vulture fund, the owners were informed on Friday and they are closing today."

The club, which boasts a Mel Flanagan designed golf course on 140 acres just 10 minutes from Kildare town, was created and run by Sean Holohan and his son Simon, relying on society booking for most of its income.

"It is with enormous sadness that I have to announce that Dunmurry Springs Golf Club is closing with immediate effect," Simon Holohan informed members by email yesterday.

"Despite our best efforts, consistent and tireless work to maintain and sustain Dunmurry Springs, the last 12-24 months have been particularly difficult and we have now been given no option but to close.

"Unfortunately our loan and credit facilities were sold last week by AIB to one of the vulture funds. Without a banking facility we are unable to continue to employ staff and maintain the course.

"Staff who have gone above and beyond to keep Dunmurry Springs going over the years. We will meet all our commitments to our staff and we will ensure they are given their full entitlement at what is a very difficult time for them."

Ireland had 194,151 registered golfers and 413 clubs in 2015, according to KPMG Golf Participation in Europe survey.

This year's report revealed the number of registered golfers had fallen by 11,753 in the last four years to 182,398 in 2018, while the number of clubs fell by three per cent last year to 394.

Ireland had one course for every 12,183 inhabitants in 2018 - the third most in Europe after Iceland and Scotland.

Irish Independent