Monday 16 September 2019

'It's been massively missed' - play centre forced to close over insurance hike to reopen

Kidspace owners Tracy Smullen (L) and Claire Doyle (R)
Kidspace owners Tracy Smullen (L) and Claire Doyle (R)
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A play centre which was forced to close its doors due to Ireland’s insurance crisis is to reopen later this year.

Kidspace in Rathfarnham, south Dublin will resume business on October 2 after securing insurance through a group scheme.

Owners Claire Doyle and Tracy Smullen, who are first cousins, closed Kidspace in March after they received an insurance quote €25,000 higher than last year.

The pair have now been given a more affordable premium and will soon be hiring to fill ten roles at the popular play centre.

“It’s been massively missed in the community as there is nothing around and we are thrilled to be able to create jobs in the area again,” Ms Doyle told Independent.ie.

“While we’re delighted we still don’t know what’s going to happen next year. You’re literally going from renewal to renewal and that’s not sustainable.

“Judges and solicitors need to realise that just because you fall over your own feet, that doesn’t mean somebody is negligent. It’s got to the stage where customers are telling me they don’t want to have kids over for play dates now for fear they might fall and sue.”

A new underwriter has entered the market after Play Activity and Leisure Ireland (PALI) – an organisation campaigning for cheaper insurance – secured a group scheme which has resulted in 50 businesses getting insurance.

Ms Doyle said it’s been a bittersweet couple of weeks as while Kidspace will be reopening, a leisure centre where her son attended swimming lessons announced it was closing.

“My son used to go swimming at Spin Activity Centre in Kildare, they were absolutely excellent and it’s a shame there is another facility gone. The government needs to step in and there needs to be more accountability.”

Insurance costs are continuing to cripple other companies as this week an outdoor obstacle event was cancelled in Kilkenny after organisers couldn’t get insurance.

Liam O’Sullivan – chairperson of the committee behind ‘Reign of Terror’ – said they spent 18 months trying to source cover.

“The whole insurance industry is on the brink of failure and Ireland is losing out,” he said.

“We have fantastic terrain and lovely countryside here and around 1,500 people were due to take part in our event but we’ve had to call it off for the second year in a row due to insurance. Government agencies need to act now to try address the issue.”

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