More than one third of community groups in Fingal are facing closure because of spiralling insurance costs, it has emerged.
Rising premiums and red tape are threatening the county’s community and voluntary organisations, according to Fingal Public Participation Network (PPN).
It warns that 83% of groups have seen a huge spike in insurance costs, while 35% say their group is in danger of folding if costs continue to rise.
A survey by PPN has also revealed that almost half (45%) of community groups have had to reduce the number and range of activities they can undertake.
Fingal PPN spokesman Jamie Moore told Dublin Gazette: “The infrastructure of volunteering in Ireland is being threatened by spiralling insurance costs, unavailability of insurance cover and increasingly unreasonable exclusions and conditions.
“While SMEs typically close if they are hit with massive premium increases, community groups tend to wind down key activities and soldier on.
“This means much of the impact of this crisis has being hidden up to now, because they [such groups] are not closing.
“It is shocking to see 47% of survey respondents saying they may have to close up.”
The type of groups affected include sports clubs, community centres, residents’ associations, men’s groups, heritage clubs, youth services and Tidy Towns.
Some 41% of the 77 community groups surveyed in Fingal are now facing yearly premiums in excess of €1,000 for their insurance – and having to fundraise to pay it.
Sharon Guinane, of Skerries Community Centre, warned that insurance costs which have almost doubled – resulting in restrictions on activities – was taking its toll.
She said: “It’s taking from the community. Ordinary Joe Soaps don’t go out and get insurance to come in for one thing.
“If things continue, then more and more, the community centre is only going to be available for organised groups and no longer for the community.”
Last week, Senator James Reilly (FG) welcomed news of a probe into the public liability insurance market and said it would bring “greater transparency”.
Meanwhile, Peter Boland, director of the PPN Alliance, called on the Government to tackle the issue of compensation and for Gardai to crack down on insurance fraud.
He said: “If the Government is serious about protecting voluntary and community groups, they must accelerate the process of establishing the Judicial Council.”