By Kyle White; Belfast Newsletter
The organisers of the Ulster Grand Prix have refuted claims that government funding provided for track safety at Dundrod was misspent.
In September 2017, Sports Minister Paul Givan announced funding worth £255,000 for the international road race.
On Thursday, BBC NI reported that of £230,000 of funding was spent on building works, with £25,000 going towards the purchase of safety bales.
However, the Ulster Grand Prix said it ‘did not receive any funding intended for track safety that was used on any other improvements at Dundrod’.
A statement issued on Thursday afternoon said: “In September 2016 the organisers of the Ulster Grand Prix made an application to the then Northern Ireland Sports Minister, Paul Givan MLA, for funding to carry out improvements at the Dundrod circuit.
“That application included proposals for work to the event headquarters, David Wood House, the paddock area and buildings as well as a request for funding for new on track safety equipment. The improvement of safety around all areas of the race event was a major factor in the application for this funding.
“These detailed proposals were examined and approved by the Minister, officials from the Department for Communities and Sport NI. £255,000 of funding was allocated for the work in 2017.
“Recticel safety bales were purchased for deployment around the Dundrod circuit. Building work on David Wood House was completed and a new building erected in the paddock.
“These buildings have facilitated safety improvements and initiatives around the UGP races that include race safety seminars, marshal training, newcomers’ induction courses and training for the hundreds of volunteers involved in running the event each year.
“Machine scrutineering, an important safety measure in road racing, takes place in the new paddock bay. This new building also includes improved shower and toilet blocks for the competitors. Mobility car parking facilities, enabling safer use by disabled visitors, was also put in place.
“The organisers of the Ulster Grand Prix motorcycle races did not receive any funding intended for track safety that was used on any other improvements at Dundrod. The organisers totally refute inaccurate inferences suggesting that was the case.”
Noel Johnston, UGP Clerk of the Course, said the Dundrod & District Club ‘adhered to a rigorous application process’ in respect of the funding.
“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,” he 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.”