Wednesday 24 July 2019

Sports bodies say clubs are cutting activities due to the 'devastating' insurance cost crisis

Concerned: Sport Ireland director of participation and ethics Una May. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Concerned: Sport Ireland director of participation and ethics Una May. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

The leading sports bodies in the State have warned that sports activities are being curtailed due to the escalating insurance crisis.

Statutory body Sport Ireland and the Federation of Irish Sport said crippling insurance costs are damaging sport.

The Federation of Irish Sport is an umbrella body for the GAA, IRFU and the FAI, which means it represents 12,000 sports clubs.

The two groups have joined the Alliance for Insurance Reform and called for urgent change to ensure "sport can continue to function".

The groups said clubs, athletes and volunteers need to be protected from what they said was the "devastating impact" of rising insurance costs and the fear of claims.

Sport Ireland, the body tasked by the Government with developing sport, said physical activity was being curtailed due to premium costs, with some sports bodies unable to now get cover.

The Federation of Irish Sport said a survey it conducted showed that 97pc of member bodies have seen premiums go up in the last five years, with average hikes of 45pc.

It comes after charities recently said they were being forced to cut services due to the impact of the insurance cost crisis. A combination of high awards being made in the courts, no sanctions for insurance fraudsters and profiteering by insurers have been blamed by experts for the insurance mess.

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has said the insurance issue was now threatening the very fabric of Irish society. Festivals are being cancelled, charities reducing services for vulnerable people and businesses forced to close with job losses, Peter Boland, of the alliance, said.

Sport Ireland's director of participation and ethics Una May said risk aversion due to the fear of claims is having a prohibitive effect on the work of sports governing bodies.

"Their ability to develop new and innovative programmes to engage people in sport and increase participation in physical activity is being curtailed significantly," she said.

She said if the current trend continues, it will have a damaging effect on the sporting landscape at all levels, from major national and international events to everyday club activities.

"Insurance is becoming an increasing burden for all our sporting bodies and will continue to have a negative impact on the delivery of sport and physical activity opportunities in Ireland and the situation urgently needs to be addressed," said Federation of Irish Sport CEO Mary O'Connor.

Mr Boland said it was a damning indictment of the insurance crisis that two major sports bodies feel they need to join the Alliance for Insurance Reform. He said the insurance debacle was hitting all sectors of Irish life, threatening the ability of charities, businesses and sports bodies to function on a day-to-day basis.

This week the Judicial Council Bill was passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas.

A panel of judges will now have a key role in preparing guidelines to readjust general damages for minor personal injuries through the establishment of a personal injuries guidelines committee. Awards for minor injuries are almost five times those paid in England, according to the Personal Injuries Commission.

Irish Independent

Also in Business