Fears just one ice rink will open this Christmas due to insurance issues

ireland
Fears Just One Ice Rink Will Open This Christmas Due To Insurance Issues Fears Just One Ice Rink Will Open This Christmas Due To Insurance Issues
Fran O'Donnell, the organiser of Limerick On Ice, said insurance underwriters have 'no appetite for the leisure market in Ireland anymore'. Photo: PA Images.
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Sarah Slater

A Dublin-based ice-rink has claimed it may be the only one to open for the Christmas period this year as the industry faces ongoing insurance problems.

Blanchardstown on Ice, the largest skating rink in Ireland which is run by Cork-based Cool Runnings Events, is to open on Friday and will remain open until the end of January.

The 1,000-square-metre rink is located right next to the Blanchardstown Centre.

A spokesperson for the company said that “as far as we are aware we are the only ice rink that will be able to open” due to spiralling insurance costs and the failure to renew policies by insurers.

“The only reason we were able to secure insurance is because we are part of a larger company. We have heard (anecdotally) that other operators are not securing insurance,” they said.

'No appetite'

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Fran O'Donnell, the organiser of Limerick On Ice which has run for the past 17 years, had hoped to reopen the business for the usual winter season.

According to Mr O’Donnell, insurance underwriters have decided that "they have no appetite for the leisure market in Ireland anymore."

“The effect of this is that not only ice rinks will be affected but also the very diverse leisure industry. At Limerick on Ice over 45 people who normally work there won’t have any work this Christmas," he said.

“Limerick on Ice normally draws in excess of 30,000 skaters and an additional 8,000 people who come to view the sport.”

Mr O’Donnell previously outlined that ice rink operators would usually have insurance premiums of between €10,000 and €25,000 for running a seasonal ice rink.

However, he said one colleague received a quote of nearly €300,000 for this year - meaning it would be around €50,000 a week for a typical five or six week opening season. His business has been totally claim-free every year, he said, and employs 45 people along with subcontractors.

New rinks

Ice skating has become very popular in Ireland and new ice skating rinks had been opening up all around the country featuring ice skating, ice hockey and ice dancing for all ages.

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While the majority opened only for the Christmas period, there are some that are now open all-year-round, although mainly using synthetic ice. There are now ice skating rink venues in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Waterford, Mullingar, Killarney and Belfast.

Tipperary Fianna Faíl TD Jackie Cahill has said that leisure operators, including ice rink operators, are facing major difficulties in securing insurance and that the Government needs to “strengthen the law of indemnity.”

Meanwhile, Dundrum on Ice will not be going ahead this year despite an announcement only a few weeks ago that the popular ice rink was to reopen.

The ice rink, based at the Dundrum Town Centre, will remain closed for the second year in a row.

In a statement, the Blue Martini Group said: “After a period of consultation with stakeholders including the Department of Health, local politicians, suppliers and staff we regret to inform you that our ice rink in Dundrum Town Centre will not be returning for this winter season, 2021.

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“With ongoing monitoring of the current situation and trends of Covid-19 and with the interests of our staff and visitors in mind, we feel opening an ice rink during this time would pose an unnecessary risk.”

The events company went on to say that while they are disappointed, they hope to be able to return next year.

“As you can imagine, we are as disappointed as you are but it will all be worth it when we can return safely which we hope to do next year.

“As always thank you for your support and we look forward to welcoming customers old and new in 2022. The Dundrum On Ice team”.

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