Playground groups will have to pay their own insurance

INSURANCE CRUX . . . Micheal Geraghty (Chairman of Castleblakeney Playground Committee) with Cllr MichaeL Finnerty at the site of the proposed playground with local children and other committee members. Middle row: Jackie Fleming, Sarah Keating, David Keating, James Fleming, Emily Fleming, Lilian Fleming, Back: Michael Fleming, Catherine Fleming, Clara Soler,Lilian Fleming, Rhonda Oates,Shirely Keating and Jackie Fleming. Photo: Gerry Stronge

At least a dozen playgrounds in County Galway – for which planning permission has either been granted or sought – will not be provided with public liability insurance by the Council . . . as was the case in the past.

Last week it was revealed by the Connacht Tribune that a North Galway community group, who raised funds to provide a playground for local children, have been informed that Galway County Council will not provide insurance cover, leaving them to cover the cost themselves.

Since then, community organisations across the county have revealed that they are in a similar position to the Castleblakeney Playground Committee.

While local communities are elated that they have received planning to provide playgrounds for children in their area, it now seems that these developments have been stopped in their tracks over the controversial insurance issue.

Community groups in North and East Galway along with one in Connemara have made contact saying that they are now in a similar position as Castleblakeney and they have been told that they have to come up with their own insurance cover, which could cost as much as €10,000 on an annual basis.

And now, Cllr Michael Finnerty from Ballinasloe has demanded a meeting with Council officials and community groups in an effort to resolve the issue. “Otherwise these developments will not proceed,” he said.

Specifically, new projects will not be accommodated – and that means that many proposed developments with planning permission will not be provided with insurance cover from the local authority as had been the case in the past.

Funding has been raised for a number of such projects around the county but they will not be embarked upon on discovering that the Council will not provide the necessary insurance cover, which could run into thousands of euro annually.

One of these projects is located in Castleblakeney in North Galway where a local committee have raised more than €8,000 to provide the facility and have obtained planning permission, only to discover that the Council will not cover any accident happening there.

Chairman of the Castleblakeney Playground Committee Micheal Geraghty said that it would be impossible to go back to the community to raise funds for public liability insurance cover on an annual basis.

Cllr Finnerty said that he would ‘take his hat off’ to communities who raised funds to provide new playgrounds in their area and it was only expected that the Council would provide insurance cover in any eventuality.

“We have to encourage the development of children’s facilities in every part of the county but if there is an insurance issue involved, then there will be nothing provided.

“There has been an emphasis on the provision of children’s facilities in rural communities but now they are being hampered in their aspirations. If there is no insurance cover being provided, then there is no point in them proceeding with such facilities. This is pure madness,” Cllr Finnerty added.