Friday, 13 May 2011

Open Letter to the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure - DCAL - Northern Ireland

Real Road Racing Motorcycle Blog by Barbiegirl Northern Ireland
Open Letter as sent to, and received by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure - DCAL - Northern Ireland - 12th May 2011

Dear Sir/Madam,
As a claimed direct result of serious concerns voiced by DCAL, the Department of the Environment, the Sports Council for NI (SCNI) and the Irish Sports Council (ISC) about the alarming number of fatalities that had occurred in motorcycle road racing prior to 2000, the governing body of motorcycling, the Motor Cycle Union of Ireland (MCUI) in August 2000 established a Task Force to examine the safety issues within the sport of motorcycle road racing in Northern Ireland.

When recently asked, what were the findings of that MCUI and/or MCUI-UC Task Force back in the first year of the new millennium - 2000, and what safety measures were put in place as a result of those MCUI / MCUI-UC Task Force findings - DCAL replied thus: 'DCAL may have received a MCUI Task Force report in December 2000 established to examine safety issues within the sport. However, no copy was held on our files.'

If the DCAL Minister of the day was so deeply concerned about the number of fatalities that had occurred in motorcycle road racing, where is that MCUI Task Force report?

When one now considers the unacceptable number of lives that have been lost since 2000, one can only describe the DCAL reply as utterly incredulous - and downright callous. Who - should it perhaps be asked, is less concerned about lives lost at motorcycle road races in Northern Ireland - DCAL or the MCUI-UC?

More than a decade on and we have another Task Force, or is it just another charade, another pointless exercise, another alleged means by which to fraudulently extract taxpayers money from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure?

Can DCAL now tell all concerned, what actual safety measures from the first Task Force Report of December 2000 were successfully implemented at our real road race circuits, and what Government funding the Motorcycle Union of Ireland (Ulster Centre) Limited, and associated Clubs - also Limited Companies, the majority of which appear to be operating while knowingly being insolvent - have received since that date - both directly and indirectly?

The number of real road racing fatalities since 2000 have been totally unacceptable, as has the huge number of those mostly forgotten seriously injured competitors, therefore one must assume that either the new safety measures were ineffective in the extreme, or that they have in fact never been implemented by the MCUI-UC, or the associated Clubs. Can DCAL therefore explain why there have been so many fatalities and seriously injured competitors within that period, and were any checks carried out by DCAL officials to determine whether or not the MCUI-UC and associated Clubs actually made any attempts to increase safety at the circuits?

The public at large have a right to be told the honest truth, rather than the truth according to the MCUI-UC Dinosaurs - innocent spectators have after all been killed and injured because of the lack of any real safety measures at these events. There have been reports for instance, of at least one OFFICIAL suffering from alcohol intoxication whilst on duty at the Cookstown 100 real road race event this year, so perhaps this alleged not entirely uncommon extremely serious breach of safety standards can also be satisfactorily explained by those ultimately responsible for ensuring the safety of competitors and spectators - the MCUI-UC?

As a further example, let’s consider the disgraceful ongoing Tandragee 100 debacle and in particular the ill-considered chicane which allegedly caused the death of Ardglass competitor John Donnan. At the traumatic inquest, Tony Harvey, incident officer for the Motorcycle Union of Ireland Ulster centre, who had allegedly conducted a review of the tragic incident, said "It could only be described as a freak accident and a risk competitors accept in the pursuit of their chosen sport". But Mr Michael Maxwell, barrister for the family of John Donnan, rightly said: "Far from being a freak accident, this was an accident waiting to happen."

Indeed, the inquest also heard claims that one of the Motorcycle Union of Ireland (Ulster Centre) Limited officials, allegedly in charge of safety at the Tandragee 100 event, had allegedly ignored warnings that the chicane, constructed of straw bales and sand bags, was unsafe and that more barriers might have saved his life. Richard Nesbitt, alleged convenor of the road inspection committee for looking after competitors' and spectators' safety for the Motorcycle Union of Ireland Ulster Centre, said he could not remember receiving any such warning. "I can't remember the man saying anything sensible other than nattering away in my ear. If someone is constantly coming at you it is easier just to ignore them," he said, then allegedly claimed there was nothing more stable than straw bales available in 2007 - which was anything but truthful, an absurd statement from the man allegedly purporting to be in charge of safety at the time John Donnan so tragically lost his life.

Can DCAL tell us which MCUI-UC officials were originally responsible for proposing and implementing the chicane at the Tandragee 100 public roads circuit, a chicane which caused a strike by competitors when it was first introduced, and can DCAL now confirm as to whether or not the chicane was one of the safety measures introduced as a direct result of the 2000 Task Force Report?

Can DCAL also tell us what relevant experience of racing 200BHP Superbike projectiles on narrow bumpy public country roads, each member of these two farcical Task Forces actually have, plus how many of the members, if any, possess relevant health and safety qualifications, and also state what criteria, if any, was actually used to choose the members of the two Task Forces, and was the subject of conflict of interests taken into account as would apply to officials of associated Clubs/Limited Companies responsible for also organising and promoting motorcycle real road race events?

Whilst the MCUI-UC were allegedly indulging themselves in other pastimes, including becoming embroiled in personality contests, power struggles, internal feuding, blatant bullying and petty legal actions - seriously unethical behaviour by any standards - innocent lives have been lost, and destroyed. Families have been ripped asunder, children left without fathers, wives without husbands, parents without sons – and who cares – from the available evidence, allegedly neither the MCUI-UC or DCAL it would seem.

People like the ubiquitous Harris Healey who with others, following the John Donnan fatality, allegedly resigned from the Motorcycle Union of Ireland (Ulster Centre) Limited in order to allegedly escape possible legal action, but like the majority of the others still appear to be, not only is Harris Healey still allegedly an unelected official of this questionable organisation - he himself actually appears to be in control of the MCUI-UC as the alleged supremo - or should that be alleged dictator?

Were any of those officials involved in the John Donnan and Martin Finnegan tragedies serving as members of the 2000 Task Force, and are they also a part of the new Task Force - it is common knowledge that the already mentioned allegedly unelected Harris Healey was a member of the aforementioned 2000 Task Force, so why was he then permitted to be a member of the new Task Force, who voted him onto the Task Force and were DCAL made fully aware of these questionable appointments?

The highly dubious practices of the Motorcycle Union of Ireland (Ulster Centre) Limited must now be officially investigated, there are to many rumours and allegations of numerous skeletons being hidden away from prying eyes - also their accounts must be meticulously scrutinised, and any ongoing allegations of misappropriation of funds for the benefit of officials etc, should also now be examined so that the sport of motorcycle road racing in Northern Ireland can be dragged back out of the sewers, and set free from those more interested in their own self importance, and alleged self gain than the sport of motorcycle road racing, so that our sport can finally flourish under an open, transparent, and most importantly - an honest Governing Body - that really does care about protecting the lives of competitors and spectators alike.

Just recently during a preliminary hearing ahead of an inquest for racer Martin Finnegan who also died - possibly due to a total lack of any satisfactory safety measures while competing at the Tandragee 100 - Senior Coroner John Leckey acknowledged that motorcycle road races did not have the same safety measures in place as other motor sport venues here in Northern Ireland and allegedly then said - if it cannot be made safe to a requisite standard, then the question has to be asked - should motorcycle racing on public roads take place at all? As a matter of urgency, this is a question that must now be answered by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.

Whilst the MCUI-UC have allegedly been attempting to absolve themselves of any responsibility - several riders, and bereaved families of riders, are allegedly currently being sued by spectators previously injured in these motorcycle real road race events, so how many more people have to be maimed and killed before our elected Government finally accepts it's share of the responsibility, and takes immediate decisive action against the seemingly despicable, ineptly incompetent Motorcycle Union of Ireland (Ulster Centre) Limited?

If Senior DCAL officials and its Ministers - past, present and future - are as concerned about safety at our real road races as has been claimed, they should now volunteer for a high speed Superbike trip around each of the public road circuits here in Northern Ireland – then unlike the majority of MCUI-UC officials, if not all – they can at least then speak from some experience and be in a position to take immediate positive action to resolve the serious ongoing safety issues that have blighted motorcycle real road racing in Northern Ireland for decades.

Yours faithfully,

Barbiegirl

Save Our Sport From Evil

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