Ulster Grand Prix denies it misused government funding

Ulster Grand Prix organisers have refuted claims made by the BBC that it spent government funding intended for safety upgrades on other paddock works

Ulster Grand Prix denies it misused government funding

A story published by BBC Northern Ireland on Thursday claimed £230,000 of a £255,000 grant issued by Sport NI to the Ulster GP in 2017 for safety upgrades was spent on refurbishing the David Wood clubhouse, as well as building new shower and toilet facilities and the improvement of disabled access in the paddock.

According to the BBC report, only £25,000 was spent on new safety bales - though Sport NI was said to be "aware of how the Ulster Grand Prix intended to spend the money".

In the same report, Rachael McKay, girlfriend of competitor Jamie Hodson - who died at the event in 2017 - said "more should have been spent on safety".

Ulster GP organisers have since issued a statement saying its plans for that funding were outlined in its application - filed in September of 2016 - to NI Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA, and that no money intended for safety was spent elsewhere.

"The Ulster Grand Prix adhered to a rigorous application process which was subject to government scrutiny before we received the funding to carry out improvements at Dundrod." Noel Johnston, Clerk of the Course, said.

"Safety was an important consideration in that application but it was not the only factor.

"The money we received has been used to make significant improvements on the course and in the paddock, enhancing the experience of everyone involved in the Ulster Grand Prix each year."

The Ulster GP statement goes onto point out new paddock facilities were needed to "improve" the stay of competitors, who spend race week in its confines.

It also claims the renovations to the clubhouse were required, as numerous race safety seminars, marshal training and induction courses for newcomers are held there, and a new paddock building for scrutineering was necessary to ensure machine safety.

The Ulster GP paddock is also the scene of community initiatives aimed to improve off-road motorcycle safety in the Greater Belfast and Lisburn region - something funded by the Department of Justice.

The statement concluded: "Every effort is made by the UGP organisers to make the event as safe as possible for competitors and spectators.

"Risk assessments are carried out each year and improvements are constantly being put in place to enhance track safety.

"But the dangers of racing in a closed roads environment remain.

"The UGP organisers believe further public investment is required to maintain safety initiatives not only in motorcycle road racing but in all motorsports across Northern Ireland."

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