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Friday 20 September 2019

'We had to cut back on salaries and staff because of soaring insurance costs' - horse-riding centre

Service: Luke Fox (7) and Lucy Coyne (8), both from Saggart, who are taking lessons with their helpers, Thomas Gibbons (14) and Mayla Van Den Berg, in the Fettercairn Youth Horse Project. Picture: Kyran O'Brien
Service: Luke Fox (7) and Lucy Coyne (8), both from Saggart, who are taking lessons with their helpers, Thomas Gibbons (14) and Mayla Van Den Berg, in the Fettercairn Youth Horse Project. Picture: Kyran O'Brien
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

A horse-riding centre for disadvantaged children and those with special needs is under threat due to soaring insurance premiums.

The Fettercairn Youth Horse Project is a community-based equine facility in the heart of Tallaght with a 20-stable facility and outdoor arena.

Its main objective is to develop the personal, social, equine and vocational skills of disadvantaged young people using its own horses.

Board member Dara Larkin said that insurance had become so expensive for the project that it risks forcing its closure.

This year's premium was €42,000, up from €5,500 in 2017. The group has 18 horses.

Mr Larkin explained that the project had been using a UK insurer, but it suddenly decided to exit the equine insurance market here because of Brexit and the claims culture in this country.

The project has had two claims in the past few years, one of which has been settled with the other outstanding.

"Up to this year, insurance was not an issue," he said.

"We paid the €42,000 demanded, but it has eaten into our reserves, taking almost a third of what we had in reserve."

The centre has six staff, made up of five full-time people and one part-time. The high cost of cover will mean cutbacks.

"We have not got any choice but to cut back on salaries and staff," Mr Larkin said.

"This means we will limp into 2020, but if the cost of the premium remains the same the next year, then that will be it. We will have to close."

He said closure would be a devastating blow for the area.

"The facility is very important to the community," he said.

"In the last five years, we have given 43,000 lessons. It is a great facility in Fettercairn, which is a disadvantaged area in socio-economic terms."

Irish Independent

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