WRC loss over delays like government ‘sticking two fingers up’ to Ireland

Limerick TD Richard O'Donoghue described delays as 'sticking the two fingers up' to Ireland.

THE “SOUL destroying” news that Limerick will not play host to the World Rally Championship because of delays at government level has been described as “sticking the two fingers up” to Ireland by one local TD.

The delays came on account of government seeking further documentation on the same day as applications closed for hosting the world-renowned rally event.

This comes as confirmations were given by Motorsport Ireland that Ireland is no longer in the running to host the World Rally Championship (WRC) over the next three years.

Motorsport Ireland (MI) put together a bid to host a round of the WRC, with the governing body voting that Limerick, Kerry, and the South East would all host a stage of the championship over the next three years.

Now, MI have confirmed that Ireland is no longer in the running to host as the government need “at least six months” to undertake economic assessments and analysis of the MI proposal.

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Because of this, Ireland has missed the closing date for bids, set by WRC Promoter GmbH.

Limerick TD and member of Limerick Motor Club, which played a role in plans to bring the championship to Ireland, Richard O’Donoghue, said that the government’s decision is “heart-wrenching and so disappointing”.

“For them to dismiss it the way they dismissed us, they stuck the two fingers up. To the rally sports, people of Ireland, the rally families of Ireland, and the world. They’re saying ‘we’re not interested’. That to me is soul-destroying,” the Limerick deputy said.

The hosting of the world-renowned rally was previously estimated to bring a €300million windfall to the Irish economy.

In a statement, Motorsport Ireland said it was granted a two-week extension by the organiser to submit a bid, but on the final day of the extended bidding process, it received confirmation from Minister of State for Tourism, Arts, Sport, and Media, Thomas Byrne, that the department would need “at least six months” to carry out further economic impact assessments.

“From the beginning, Motorsport Ireland have been very clear that March 2024 was the cutoff for receiving acknowledgment if we were successful or not in our request for funding. This deadline wasn’t chosen by Motorsport Ireland, this was an operational deadline set by the World Rally Championship Promoter,” the statement said.

Deputy O’Donoghue said that “it’s soul-destroying to see that they thought so little of us that they only responded on the deadline date”.

“To come in on the last day and say,lads we’re looking for a feasibility study’, that will tell you that they ran down the clock to make sure that it couldn’t happen.” 

Motorsport Ireland president Aiden Harper said he was “saddened that it has come to this, but unfortunately we are left with no option.”

“We always stated that the FIA World Rally Championship could only come to Ireland with the financial support of government while always being aware that the funding may not be forthcoming.”