Crippling insurance hikes are forcing local festivals to close
Community festivals, parades and county shows around the country are under threat by soaring insurance premiums.
The Association of Irish Festival Events (Aoife) said a number of community events planned for this year have already been cancelled because of surges in the cost of public liability cover.
Aoife is one of 18 groups made up of businesses, civic bodies and representative organisations that have come together to demand faster reform of the insurance sector.
They have formed the Alliance for Insurance Reform.
Executive director of Aoife Colm Croffy said more festivals and outdoor events will be forced to shut down because of the insurance crisis, a move that will be a huge blow to local economies. His group represents 400 festivals and events.
Festival organisers were being hit with double-digit premium hikes, which made it too expensive to put on the events. Up to 12 events have been cancelled for this year so far. Many of the events under threat are organised by community volunteers on a not-for-profit basis.
"People putting on events on a pro-bono basis are scratching their heads and wondering why they are putting in all the effort if it is for nothing," Mr Croffy said.
Many organisers were reducing the array of events during festivals or shows in a bid to keep costs down, he said.
"It can cost €800 to €1,000 just to put 100 children in witches costumes and lanterns on a street at tea time," he said.
Event organisers that used to have €2.3m in public liability cover were now being asked by county managers to have €13m of cover in place. Every extra €1m in cover costs another €1,500 in premiums.
Speaking at the launch of the Alliance, he accused insurers of being too prepared to settle, rather than fighting what are often spurious claims.
The Alliance criticised insurers for a lack of transparency on pay outs, hit out at inconsistent court awards and attacked lawyers for exploiting a "compo culture".
It is calling on insurers to pursue fake claims more vigorously.
Soaring premiums have prompted businesses and other groups to revive the Alliance a decade-and-a-half after it was successful in bringing about huge change in insurance law and regulations.
Peter Boland of the Alliance said rising premiums are putting jobs at risk.