Hundreds of community and volunteer events and festivals could be under threat due to soaring insurance costs and regulatory issues.
The Alliance for Insurance Reform made the warning in the wake of the postponement of the 2019 Ballina Salmon Festival. The event, which had been running for 65 years, said that "increased insurance and general festival costs" contributed to the decision to cancel this year's festival. In 2017, insurance for the festival was €6,000. It increased to €25,000 this year.
In addition, the Alliance for Insurance Reform (AOIFE) said that up to 200 festivals all over the country could be facing further insurance hikes due to regulatory issues concerning the Civil Defence.
Currently, the Civil Defence provides pre-hospital emergency care at hundreds of events nationwide. The presence of first aiders like the Civil Defence is typically factored into insurance costs but their licence to provide such care is to expire on July 31.
The independent statutory agency, the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC), said that it has yet to receive an application to extend the licence.
"This is something we would encourage and look forward to receiving, however, this is a matter for the Civil Defence," Richard Lodge, PHECC director, said.
Colm Croffy, executive director of AOIFE, said that if the Civil Defence cannot provide the service, small events would have to turn to the private sector to get an ambulance crew for medical assistance. This could cost as much as €5,000 per day, he said.
In addition, he said insurance premiums could soar.
"Festivals are already stretched to breaking point by rocketing insurance costs and this is the thing that will push them over the edge," Mr Croffy said.
"Most festival insurers will price on the basis that emergency first aiders like Civil Defence are in attendance. If they are not approved, the organisers will have to pay for professional paramedical teams to ensure that they can get insurance. Many cannot afford to do so; and if they can’t get insurance, the event won’t go ahead."