Insurance now the biggest bill for GAA clubs
Rural organisations under threat from hikes in premiums
The cost of insurance has doubled for GAA clubs in the past five years.
Tom Ryan, the director general of the Gaelic Athletic Association, told an Oireachtas committee that the cost of insurance premiums is a major challenge for the organisation.
The sports body is one of a number of community groups that appeared before the Finance Committee which is looking at the impact of surging insurance premiums on community groups and businesses, such as livestock marts and men's sheds associations.
Mr Ryan told the TDs and senators: "The increased cost of claims and the increased volumes of claims we are seeing are a challenge for us. The legal process and how it operates is also a challenge."
The GAA provides property and liability insurance to all the clubs in the State and also operates an injury fund.
A combination of self-funding, based on levies on gate receipts, and commercial insurance is used to cover clubs.
"The biggest single bill for any GAA club is the insurance bill. Insurance is arranged centrally and recharged to the clubs."
He said most of the claims faced by clubs did not relate to injuries to players and trainers. Instead, they were mostly due to injuries incurred at social events in club houses.
The cumulative cost of claims in the past five years has been €45m, Mr Ryan told the committee. Premiums have jumped by 20pc in cost in the past year alone, and have doubled in five years.
The politicians were also told that livestock marts and men's sheds were threatened with closure due to soaring insurance costs.
The manager of the Donegal Co-operative Livestock Mart, Eimear McGuinness, said there were up to 70 marts around the country, but many were threatened with closure due to high claims volumes and soaring premiums for public liability insurance.
Barry Sheridan, of the Men's Sheds Association, which covers 400 groups, said many of the member groups were struggling to get insurance cover.
"The cost is putting pressure on many sheds, which have limited resources."
He said the groups played an important social and community service.