Published Wednesday, 09 October 2013
Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy at the public consultation launch. (© Pacemaker)
Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy has confirmed that he is now set to proceed with a Bill that would allow race organisers greater flexibility in scheduling and rearranging events.
The proposals arose out of the need to tackle situations like the wash-outs at the North West 200.
The annual event draws tens of thousands of visitors to the North Coast, boosting the local economy - but it has been badly hit by heavy rain in two out of the last three years.
The UUP minister now intends to seek the approval of the Executive to progress the Bill quickly through the Assembly.
I made a firm undertaking to all road race organisers that I would examine the situation and work to provide a solution in time for the 2014 season.
Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy
Noting the concerns that had been raised during the public consultation, Mr Kennedy said he "fully understands" the views put forward regarding Sunday racing.
However, he explained that the existing legislation - the Road Races (NI) Order 1986 - had not ruled out Sunday racing in the first place, so the new Bill would not be seeking to break a prohibition.
"It is for race promoters to decide whether they wish to race on a Sunday and to make the necessary application to the Department," Mr Kennedy said.
He added: "I would reassure everyone that the granting of permission to reschedule a race would only take place in exceptional circumstances - such as we experienced this year, when heavy snow led to the cancellation of the Circuit of Ireland Easter Stages Rally and torrential rain led to the cancellation of the North West 200 and the Dundrod 150 motorcycle races."
The Executive now needs to approve the introduction of the Bill to the Assembly before the issue can be debated by MLAs who will decide if it can proceed.
© UTV News