Sunday 25 August 2019

Taking spring out of summer - playground axes trampolines over insurance cost

Forced to cutback: The trampolines being removed from Fort Lucan
Forced to cutback: The trampolines being removed from Fort Lucan

Amy Molloy and John Downing

One of the biggest adventure playgrounds in Ireland has been forced to remove two trampolines after its insurance was hiked by €25,000.

Fort Lucan Adventureland, based in Dublin, told customers it had "no choice" but to permanently remove them due to the insurance crisis.

Gillian Martin-Smith, manager of Fort Lucan, said the company's premium has doubled to more than €50,000 since 2015.

Ms Martin-Smith said they were told they would have to pay an extra €25,000 to insure the two trampolines.

She said if the Government doesn't move to address insurance costs, they are "going to close down the entire country".

"There were two trampolines built into the ground, people were always supervised, no adults were allowed on, children couldn't do somersaults or anything remotely dangerous and yet the insurance was hiked," she told Independent.ie. "We've had no claims in the last 15 years. They were the safest trampolines in the country."

Fort Lucan adventure park has been open for nearly 25 years. "If insurance keeps doubling year-on-year, every business is going to be closed," Ms Martin-Smith said.

"We're building a fantastic new attraction in its place. We're adamant we're not going anywhere and we're going to put a slide there in the meantime for this summer.

"It's terrible not knowing year-on-year what your insurance is going to be."

Fort Lucan is a member of Play Activity and Leisure Ireland (PALI), which has been campaigning for reduced insurance costs.

More than 61 play centres have been threatened with closure this year alone. Two in Dublin and Co Carlow were forced to close earlier this year after their insurance costs soared by 300pc, resulting in the loss of dozens of jobs.

Fianna Fáil's Dara Calleary yesterday warned the Government that "nice words and pats on the back" would not be enough to save thousands of jobs in hospitality, childcare and other sectors facing this problem.

Speaking in the Dáil, the TD said his party's draft law, which would penalise those who brought spurious claims, was languishing in the pipeline. He said the Government backed off suggested plans to have a special Garda unit dealing with insurance fraud.

Business Minister Heather Humphreys replied the Government was keenly aware of the problem and a number of measures were being undertaken. She said the role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board had been strengthened and other measures included more meetings between An Garda Síochána and the insurance industry.

"There is no one silver bullet here. But taken together all these measures will reduce the cost of claims," Ms Humphreys told the Dáil.

Irish Independent

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