AStatement to TKC Members regarding Round 1 of the 2021 Championship

Tullyallen Kart Club planned and organised the first round of our 2021 championship for 13th June in White River Park. It was a highly anticipated event and attracted a record entry for the Club. We had a lot of new members taking part and we were all set to put on a great event. Hours and hours of work went into the preparations, and everyone was looking forward to a safe return to some sort of normality after what had been a long 8 months away from karting.

 

We followed and adhered to all the Covid guidelines available on gov.ie and from NPHET and updated our policies and procedures where necessary. We had contacted the Minister for Sport seeking clarification on the number of people permitted at our events. We have our own health & safety consultant who we check in with regularly to clarify our responsibilities with regard to reducing the spread of Covid and we regularly update our policy and amend our procedures to reflect any necessary changes in the guidance.

 

The day was running well which was down in no small part to our amazing volunteers. It was great to see so many of our old friends and to welcome our new members too. The future of Irish motorsport looks bright with the junior drivers out in force on the Bambino, Cadet, Junior x30 and Junior Max grids. Children as young as 5 were taking part in their very first race and were looking forward to collecting their finisher’s trophies.

 

You will have seen or heard that we had a visit from the Gardai. We have been made aware of several rumours that are circulating so we would like to set the record straight for our members and give a factual account of what happened on Sunday.

 

While we were not expecting a visit from the Gardai we were not worried when they arrived because we had visits at events last year to check over our procedures, etc and no concerns were raised.

 

The Guard who dealt with us was incredibly professional and we would like to put it on the record that we have no issue with the handling of matters on the day.

 

A complaint had been received that day at a higher level within An Garda Siochana reporting a sporting event being run by an “unaffiliated” club.

 

For those of you who may not know our Club was formed in late 2010 and since then has operated as an independent, unaffiliated club run by a small committee of its members. The club aims to make karting more affordable and accessible for everyone, promoting safe racing in a relaxed and friendly environment. The Club has a reputation for being family friendly and this has attracted members from all ages, ranging from as young as 5 to the more mature racer. Over the years TKC has grown and is now one of Ireland’s largest karting clubs with our members hailing from all four corners of the island of Ireland. We currently have 203 registered members ranging in age from 5 to 65, we have 138 registered members under the age of 18. TKC is known as a well-run club who value their member’s opinions and who are passionate about promoting the sport of karting in Ireland.

 

Through the years TKC has maintained its independent status and has chosen not to be affiliated to a National Governing Body for the following reasons:

  • Affiliation would mean all our members would have to purchase a licence at considerable cost to themselves. Parents of our younger members would also have to purchase a licence to accompany their child on race day adding to the expense.

  • Some of the karting classes we run in our club are not catered for by the NGB, therefore it is possible that we would no longer be able to cater for these members and they would have nowhere else to race in Ireland.

  • Entry fees could increase substantially, and this could mean that some of our members could not enter events on grounds of affordability.

 

The complaint received by An Garda Siochana was made on the day of the event and pointed the Gardai towards a section in the Covid legislation which defines a “sporting event” as an event organised under the structure of, licenced by, or otherwise authorised by a national governing body (NGB) of the sport in question. The complaint was made by a NGB.

 

It transpired that the current definition of a “sporting event” in the Act precludes anybody from organising a competitive sporting event that is not affiliated with a National Governing Body. This comes at a time when the country is meant to be reopening and returning to some sort of normality. Outdoor sports training and competitions are meant to be open for all ages and all grades since 7th June, but it seems only if you are affiliated with an NGB. As you know, participation in sport is beneficial for mental health and wellbeing as well as physical fitness. The opportunity to compete in sporting events should be available to everyone and should not be limited to the privileged few who can afford to pay for licences and expensive race entry fees. We contend that the current definition of a “sporting event” in the Act is creating an elitist divide in this country where some sectors of society can return to competitive sports, but others cannot. Our legal advice indicates that the current situation is breaching constitutional rights.

Our committee planned and organised Sunday’s event in good faith. We were genuinely unaware of the definition of a “sporting event” within the Act. The Gardai had to follow up on the complaint that had been made and had no option but to advise us to stop the event, which we duly did. If the NGB had contacted us in advance of the event we would have been able to seek advice regarding the definition of a “sporting event” and we could have weighed up our options, however we were not afforded that opportunity. The seven Committee members were advised that as the event was already underway, we can all be held personally liable. It should be noted that the Gardai were satisfied with the Covid controls that were in place and with the running of the event so there are no concerns there. We are currently taking legal advice on how we deal with what happened on Sunday and how we proceed as a Club.

 

We would like to thank our members and volunteers for your co-operation on Sunday and for how quickly you all packed up and left the track. We have received so many messages and offers of support over the past few days that it has not been possible to reply to them all yet. Tullyallen Kart Club is a great club and a great community of people who genuinely care about each other and about karting. All of our members should be incredibly proud of what an independent, unaffiliated Club has managed to achieve since its formation with no financial support from NGBs or central government. Now is the time to pull together to support the club you have helped to build.

 

We will be in contact with our members in the coming days seeking your assistance to attempt to get this resolved.  We thank you for your continued support and we will update you as soon as we have any more information.

 

Kind regards

Tullyallen Kart Club Committee