Sunday 18 August 2019

High cost: Now tug of war clubs threatened by price of policies

Emotional pull: Treasurer Anthony Pender (wearing hat) with members of the Irish Tug of War Association
Emotional pull: Treasurer Anthony Pender (wearing hat) with members of the Irish Tug of War Association
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

The national group that promotes tug of war says it is losing the battle to keep operating due to out-of-control insurance rises.

Representing 25 clubs, the Irish Tug of War Association has seen its insurance costs rise by more than 400pc over the last three years, threatening its survival.

An amateur body, it governs the sport in Ireland.

The cost of cover is now gobbling up every cent of the association's income. It has 700 competing members.

Treasurer Anthony Pender, from Co Carlow, said the group just about pulled off paying its premium of €27,000 this year.

But its members now doubt they will be able to meet the mounting insurance bill next year.

There have been a small number of minor injury claims on the policy.

Mr Pender said the huge cost of insurance means the association's core activities, such as tug-of-war competitions, participation at festivals and community shows, and community and schools outreach programmes, will have to be significantly reduced this year, or may have to cease altogether.

"It is a real problem for us to pay €27,000. That sort of bill eats up all our income for the year," he said.

"Because insurance will absorb every cent of our income it leaves us with nothing for medals and trophies for competitions and nothing to finance the national squads."

This September the association will host the European outdoor championships in Castlebar, Co Mayo, and the world indoor championships in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, next February.

Mr Pender said efforts to recruit new members will be severely restricted if it has to drop its community and schools outreach programmes.

"The insurance issue will severely hamper our developmental programmes and our futures. We could go out of business next year unless we can get some kind of financial help," Mr Pender said.

The association is currently seeking a sponsor to help it defray some of the expenses of running the organisation.

He said the association is in the process of joining the Alliance for Insurance Reform.

Tug of war is actively played throughout the country with a strong presence and popularity in rural communities.

The association works in conjunction with Sport Ireland, which has recognised the growth of the sport across the State and is working to expand its presence.

Irish Independent

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