Private golf clubs are seeking €1.7million from a taxpayer money pot intended for disadvantaged sports groups.
There was public outrage earlier this year when the Sports Capital Programme scandal erupted over wealthy groups and private schools draining the public purse.
Now golfers are set to snap up piles of money once again as clubs in Dublin have lodged fresh applications looking for more in grants.
Balbriggan Golf Club has asked for €150,000 for its “modernisation programme”.
In March the Irish Mirror revealed it had already been awarded €103,430.
The grants are intended for disadvantaged sports groups that desperately need to upgrade their facilities for community use.
Management at Balbriggan Golf Club say on their website it is “among the premier parkland courses in Leinster”.
The description of its facilities states: “The blend of mature trees and newly designed water hazards, which come into play on seven holes, give an intriguing character to the course and provides golfers with variety and a challenging round.”
Sports Minister Shane Ross was criticised in March when allegations emerged private schools and golf clubs were abusing the scheme.
His department subsequently carried out a review which ultimately defended the payouts.
The report said: “Many golf clubs provide a very useful sporting outlet at very modest rates to both younger and older participants and it is difficult from an administrative perspective to agree what might constitute a ‘reasonable’ membership fee.
“Accordingly, it is recommended golf clubs should continue to be eligible for funding under subsequent rounds of the programme.”
Last year Slade Valley Golf Club in Brittas, Co Dublin, received €97,760.
Now it is back looking for a €123,765 top-up. It was initially turned down in 2017 and Fianna Fail Deputy Whip, TD John Lahart, wrote a letter to Mr Ross pleading with him to “look sympathetically” upon the appeal.
He said: “Please see enclosed a copy of an appeal letter that has been lodged by Slade Valley Golf Club.
“I wish to offer my strong support of this appeal. I believe the appeal is very worthy of consideration and I would be grateful if you would look sympathetically upon it.”
In its appeal, management wrote: “The reason stated for considering our application to be ineligible is we are a ‘private/Commercial Organisation’ with ‘restricted membership’.
“We refute this categorically. I assure you once again, we are neither a commercial nor a private organisation.
“We were shocked to find ourselves categorised as such and we do believe our application was misinterpreted in this regard.”
Junior Sports Minister Brendan Griffin, later wrote to Deputy Lahart and said: “I can confirm the club’s appeal was successful and the department wrote to the club on the March 15 with a pro-visional offer of €97,760 towards equipment.”
Deputy Lahart told the Irish Mirror last night: “I would always be slow to support golf clubs because they’re kind of members funded and sort of seen as exclusive but Slade Valley funding had a particular tourism element to it and there was an awful lot of community use to the facilities.
“It was on that basis that I was happy having read their submission to support it.”
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