Organizers of a motor festival canceled due to “insurance complications” fear the event may never go ahead.
The Owran Festival of Speed, an event that features famous rally drivers, pulled the plug last week after insurers demanded that rally cars remain stationary during demonstrations.
The popular festival has been held at Gowran Park in Co Kilkenny for the past seven years and has included BMX stunt riders, drifting and a carnival.
Rally drivers who wanted to offer the punters a spectacle with three laps on the route were offered up to 2,000 euros for taking out private insurance.
An insurance company that had previously withdrawn the event from the Irish market and the policies offered by alternative insurers would have prevented the festival from being able to take place in its traditional form.
Some companies had conditions, such as not allowing rally cars to be moved on the site.
Gowran Park general manager Eddie Scally said it was a difficult decision to cancel an enjoyable family day out.
He is now urging the government to step in to protect motorsport events “before it’s too late”.
“I actually think the festival of speed is over and we’ll never have it again,” he said. “I don’t see how I’m ever going to get insurance again.
“You can’t name a broker who hasn’t had this event coming up. We went to the ends of the earth to try to find cover.
“Either they were not willing to offer, or the insurance companies were only willing to offer with massive conditions.
“The premiums were reasonable but they insured us for absolutely nothing. The very first year we ran it, seven years ago, our insurance premium was around €800. In recent years it has been towards €5,000.
“They wanted the demonstrators to provide their own private insurance policy as well and there was a stipulation that their insurance would only cover them in cases going to a UK court, which was odd.”
The festival’s volunteer committee met last Wednesday to consider its options and rather than receiving negative feedback for holding the event in a limited capacity, they decided to cancel it altogether.
“Unfortunately, that’s the world we’re in,” Mr Scally said. “I just can’t believe it. If we had a set of demands or demands from previous events then maybe, but to do six full events we didn’t change anything – the system was identical and had the same things including rally rescue, doctors and ambulances – that makes no sense. Almost everything was managed and there were no claims.
“I’m very worried about what Ireland will be like in six years. Will we sit down and watch black and white TVs again since color could damage our eyes?
“Our public liability insurance wouldn’t cover us if a car hit someone, and that’s where we had our biggest problems.
“We have also gone abroad to get cover but companies are afraid of payouts in Irish courts. The Irish as a nation are extremely quiet when it comes to taxes and insurance while the insurance companies are making huge profits.”
The event was scheduled to take place last Sunday, August 21st.
Everyone who bought tickets will be refunded, with Mr Scally describing it as extremely disappointing as some of the monies were to be donated to charity.
Motorsport Ireland has previously said it has been hit by increases of up to 202 per cent for insurance to cover its rally and racing events in recent years, raising concerns about the future of the sport.
Meanwhile, other sectors are also struggling to obtain insurance, despite ongoing reforms and efforts to combat high levels of personal injury premiums.
Irish horse and pony racing deal with expensive insurance costs. The sector set up an online auction to raise over €40,000 towards insurers.
Sam Coen, a 13-year-old jockey, recently wrote to thoroughbred stud owner John Magnier asking for support.
A donation was then made by Coolmore Stud towards insurance costs.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise funds for another young jockey.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/festival-of-speed-is-finished-organiser-says-all-irish-motorsport-in-danger-due-to-insurance-costs-41933044.html ‘Festival of Speed is over’ – Promoter says all Irish motorsport is in jeopardy over insurance costs