North Antrim MP Ian Paisley has expressed his bitter disappointment after the Ulster Centre of the Motorcycle Union of Ireland (MCUI) announced all motorcycle road racing, short circuit racing and trials scheduled to take place in Northern Ireland throughout 2023 were been cancelled.
The MCUI said following an emergency meeting on Thursday (9 February) that it came to the decision due soaring costs for public liability insurance, essential for all motorcycle racing events.
It is understood insurance costs have tripled to over £400,000 for this year.
In a statement on Friday afternoon, Ian Paisley MP said:
"As a motor sport enthusiast and an activist in motor sport – Chairman of Parliaments All Party Group on Motorbikes, Member of the F1 Parliament Group and Chairman of the independent Motorsport task force - I am bitterly disappointed by today’s announcement that the MCUI has made, the equivalent of “cancelling Christmas” by saying motorbike sport is cancelled this year. I completely understand the dilemma the MCUI has found itself in, but hope that it is premature.
"The dilemma is that they have a soaring insurance bill for events and not all the clubs and events can take that bill. Some can meet the increased costs and therein lies the opportunity.
"I have been working with the NW 200 and others to see if we can arrange for one off single event, insurance cover can be provided by the brokers. I have engaged Lloyds of London in this regard."
Mr Paisley added:
"This may be the shake-up required to put motorsport on a sure financial footing going forward but the immediate problem needs to be addressed and I will do all I can to help these key events that drive our economy and put Northern Ireland on a positive footing get the support they need.
"There have been belated calls for government to step in. We only have to look to last year to see that government let down motorsport – both two and four wheel sport – those with a short memory will think there is a magic wand in the assembly. Let’s be clear there isn’t!"