Regulation of Kayaking and Canoeing in Ireland

Irish Kayaking and Canoeing discussion forum.

Moderators: Seanie, EoinH

User avatar
Seanie
Posts: 840
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2007 4:27 pm

Regulation of Kayaking and Canoeing in Ireland

Post by Seanie » Sun Mar 21, 2010 9:13 pm

I've chatted to people in the past about the legal situation in Ireland surrounding kayaking and canoeing schools, no qualifications or experience are needed to teach kayaking or canoeing. It defies any logic whatsoever.

The article below is from 3 years ago but still nicely outlines what the situation is to this day. I've even spoken to one of the people involved in drafting the legislation. An act such as this one would pay for itself. Clearly there isn't the political will to get this laws enacted.

Adventure industry gets regulation warning
Sunday, September 09, 2007
The Sunday Business Post wrote: Irish tourism bosses are targeting adventure-seeking holidaymakers this year with a €4 million advertising campaign featuring surfing, mountain biking and hiking.

However, there are major questions about who regulates the growing adventure sports industry.

Despite the growth in the popularity of outdoor sports, there is still no legislation governing the burgeoning industry. While a bill governing standards at outdoor activity centres was passed by the Dail and signed into law by President Mary McAleese in 2001, the bill has never been implemented.

The act was passed after a campaign by Waterford man Michael Davies, whose 14-year-old son Ros died in a canoeing accident in Dunmore East in 1995. Davies successfully sued the Dunmore East activity centre when Ros and another member of his party died after being swept out to sea, but he eventually gave up his fight to have the bill implemented.

The bill was drawn up by the then Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, but with maritime affairs now under the auspices of the Department of Transport, there is confusion over which government department should take control of the issue.

Many industry representatives fear it will take another accident before legislation is enacted.

‘‘I put my campaign to bed after ten years of trying to get the government to do something,” said Davies.

‘‘I got as far as seeing a bill passed by the Dail but the then Minister for the Marine, Noel Dempsey, decided not to pursue it. FiannaFail did so many about-turns on it that I just couldn’t deal with them anymore.”

Davies said that his son’s death was tragic and preventable. ‘‘The group was taken out despite the fact that a storm was coming in. Ros was a novice and they didn’t have our permission to take him out. The equipment he was using wasn’t suitable. By their nature, outdoor centres operate in unfriendly areas and there is always an element of risk.

‘‘But the industry is expanding and people would be flabbergasted to know it’s not regulated. A lot of thought went into the 2001 bill, submissions were sought and the money was in place to enact it. The legislation wasn’t all-encompassing, but it was a good, broad start.”

Davies said the bill could become law ‘‘in the morning, with the stroke of a pen’’, but the political will to do so was lacking. Roisin Finlay, editor of adventure sports magazine Outsider, said that the regulation of activity providers was long overdue, given rising interest in the sector.

‘‘Most outdoor providers are very responsible and have the correct training,” she said. ‘‘But at the moment, it’s possible for pretty much anyone to set up a surf school or kayaking operation and take people out. I would say the public is largely unaware of this.

‘‘The onus is on the client to check that the person they entrust their safety to has the right qualifications, whereas it should be the other way around. You shouldn’t be allowed to operate unless you have the right skills and training.

‘‘Setting off across a calm bay in a sea kayak for an evening might seem harmless, but if something goes wrong, you want to know you’re with someone with the right skills.”

A review carried out by the Irish Sports Council, following the closure of the Tiglin National Outdoor Training Centre last year, called for the establishment of a standards authority and recommended that the 2001 legislation be enacted, but to no avail. ‘‘It is extremely frustrating for us,” said Conor Ryan, a spokesman for the Irish Canoe Union.

‘‘Why has this legislation never been implemented? The plan was for a full-time inspectorate regulating the industry, but nothing has happened.

‘‘As a governing body, we can make safety recommendations and we have set up a very good awards scheme which encourages best practice. We maintain a good safety record, but there is an inherent danger in water sports.

‘‘Centres need to be regulated, particularly as more schools are now starting to include outdoor activities in the curriculum at transition year level. We’re not in a position to police outdoor centres. If a centre decides to employ unqualified staff, there’s nothing we can do legally.

‘‘As commercial operations, some centres break recommended instructor-trainee ratio guidelines in a bid to make more money. Unfortunately, we’re waiting for a major accident to happen.”

Ryan said lack of regulation also meant centres could pay young staff badly and there was little incentive for people to gain qualifications. With the huge increase in the number of people surfing in recent years, the Irish Surf Association has established a self-regulatory system, listing approved surf centres on its website.

‘‘We carry out inspections to some degree, but not to a level that would be considered proper,” said Michael Kelly, chairman of the ISA. ‘‘We’re extremely frustrated. We don’t have the financial resources or the legal right to police the industry.

‘‘Local authorities like Clare County Council insist that anyone teaching surfing has to have approval, but even that is very difficult to police. A centre can have approval one year, lose it the next year but still claim to have it. The average person who decides to take a surfing lesson doesn’t know this is going on.” Mike Jones, operations manager at the University of Limerick activity centre, said that ‘‘anyone can buy 20 kayaks and start offering lessons, without approval or insurance’’.

‘‘It’s a free-for-all. Some individual national governing bodies do a very good job but, as demand for adventure sports increases, you’re still getting guys setting up on the beach with no qualifications. Legislation will be controversial, but it has to happen.

‘‘There are centres operating below the necessary standards, but because they bring visitors in and are important to tourism, they’re allowed to. If regulation comes in, costs will be pushed up as qualified instructors look for better wages. The bottom line is money.

‘‘Sadly, the only thing that will move it forward and see legislation being rubberstamped is the death of tourists in an accident.”

According to Olive Stephens, a spokeswoman for the Department of Transport, representatives from the departments of Transport, Communications, and Arts, Sport and Tourism met to discuss regulating the industry on May 28. However, they have not even decided which department should be responsible.

‘‘There is an issue around the appropriate location for responsibility for regulation of adventure sports in Ireland,” said Stephens. ‘‘However, it does look as if it will go to the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism.

‘‘The last interdepartmental meeting identified a number of issues that need to be considered. The 2001 act needs to be reviewed to see if it’s still appropriate and relevant, the role of an Adventure Activities Standards Authority (AASA) needs to be considered in relation to the appropriate department and other agencies, along with the appropriate locus of corporate governance of an AASA.

‘‘No final position has been reached, but the establishment of a new regulatory structure must be cost-effective, efficient and comprehensive.”
Still reading? Good stuff.

Here is the Bill as proposed originally, it has a great explanation about how the body would work etc. at the back of the file : And here is the series of meetings/debates/amendments that the Bill went through:
http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?fn ... efault.htm

And here is the final product the Act: So what now? How do we get things moving? Is it worth the effort?

Adrians
Posts: 212
Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2007 1:22 pm

Re: Regulation of Kayaking and Canoeing in Ireland

Post by Adrians » Sun Mar 21, 2010 11:07 pm

Seanie,

I agree that there should be some regulation, but how would such a system then apply to Clubs both regular & college.

Or should their be a two tier system be in place to let them operate as they currently do?


I'm not sure how all operators work but I'm sure their public liability and professional indemnity insurance would state that they operate to the guidelines set out by the NGB. I'm not saying this counts as regulation but if someone is running a by the book operation this would be something I'm sure they would have to adhere to?

Something that could be implemented without almost any cost and done so very quickly would be an ICU "approved" system. Those of us that operate certain courses already have to apply to the ICU for permission to do so and enclose insurance details so that a given course can go ahead. Perhaps if a all course providers could apply for this approval once yearly it might go some way to regulating the industry.

I know its not a legal binding thing but it might go some way to filing the current gap of unregulation?

Just to add to this, AFAS ( Centre Standards Board ) is the Association of Adventure Sports Centers which used to provide apprivial for Adventure centers. I'm not sure how active these lot still are or what part they might be able to play in regulating the industry.

Adrian

User avatar
Seanie
Posts: 840
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2007 4:27 pm

Re: Regulation of Kayaking and Canoeing in Ireland

Post by Seanie » Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:29 pm

Adrians wrote: but how would such a system then apply to Clubs both regular & college.
I assume it would only apply to commercial ventures.
Adrians wrote:I'm not sure how all operators work but I'm sure their public liability and professional indemnity insurance would state that they operate to the guidelines set out by the NGB. I'm not saying this counts as regulation but if someone is running a by the book operation this would be something I'm sure they would have to adhere to?
No, thats not correct. First of all, not all or many insurers require you to follow your NGB guidelines. Secondly, to best of my knowledge having insurance is also not a requirement. The only thing a person cant do by law at the moment is to be negligent, which according to one insurance company is very hard to prove, even at that, the person or company is free to start trading again the next day. And how are customers to judge if a person or company is " running a by the book operation"?
Adrians wrote:Something that could be implemented without almost any cost and done so very quickly would be an ICU "approved" system. Those of us that operate certain courses already have to apply to the ICU for permission to do so and enclose insurance details so that a given course can go ahead. Perhaps if a all course providers could apply for this approval once yearly it might go some way to regulating the industry.
True, but it would have no legal weight. And it would cost a lot of money to start up and even more to maintain an inspection routine, conflict resolution etc. etc. Not to mention that it would require a lot of cash for investing in advertising upfront. Without advertising the system would be pointless. The question is, is an in house approval scheme worth the overhead and time, when its not legally backed up? Sure there is the potential to make some cash, but is it worth the effort without having a law to back it up?
Adrians wrote:Just to add to this, AFAS ( Centre Standards Board ) is the Association of Adventure Sports Centers which used to provide approval for Adventure centers. I'm not sure how active these lot still are or what part they might be able to play in regulating the industry.
Its dormant, the person I spoke to put a lot of time and effort into the bill and I don't think they fancy putting more time into overcoming the political impasse that exists today. But there may be more involved with that site that are up for giving it one more push.

roshaw_87
Posts: 55
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:37 pm
Location: Galway

Re: Regulation of Kayaking and Canoeing in Ireland

Post by roshaw_87 » Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:56 pm

heres a better link to the final bill
http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/2001/en/ ... index.html

As mentioned the ISA run center approval, but you don't need it to bring people out sailing, its only for running ISA courses. If the ICU done the same it would separate bad operators from good, but wouldn't stop them from bring groups out. The operators this Bill was aimed at don't run ICU courses anyway because they don't hire qualified instructors. AFAS was voluntary and no authority.It was mainly just Vec centres

As for clubs, this was taken from the bills introduction to dail debate
"It should be noted that the definition of a provider in the Bill covers only those who provide adventure activities on a commercial basis. It does not cover schools or other educational establishments, which is a complex area. Schools do, in some instances, engage in adventure activities, but on an individual, local or preparatory level rather than a commercial basis. It has been agreed with the Minister for Education and Science and the Minister for Health and Children that, at this stage, the direct provision of adventure activities in schools to schoolchildren would not be included in the definition. This matter will, however, require further detailed investigation and it is proposed to leave this to the authority to examine after it has been established. New regulations would perhaps make schools, particularly the less well off ones, unwilling to undertake adventure activities. However, even though they are not covered by the Bill, it is anticipated that such institutions may wish to voluntarily adhere to the codes of practice the new authority will develop."

The Bill was passed and all it needed was the minister at the time to sign it into action. It wasn't, I suspect due to a pay off by one of the large private operators. The departments have been reshuffled since and I'm not sure which minister we'd have to lobby now. It was under the department of marine and transport. I can't see it being the department of transports problem so either the department of enterprise trade and employment or Communications Energy and Natural resources.
"Conor Lenihan, T.D.
Appointed Minister of State at the Departments of Enterprise,
Trade and Employment, Education and Science, and Communications, Energy
and Natural Resources, with special responsibility for Science,
Technology, Innovation and Natural Resources on 22nd April 2009."

or Eamon Ryan
Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Shall will write letters, petition or just egg them till somethings do
087 9862517/ [email protected]
Intelligence is what you use when you dont know what to do

roshaw_87
Posts: 55
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:37 pm
Location: Galway

Re: Regulation of Kayaking and Canoeing in Ireland

Post by roshaw_87 » Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:24 pm

http://www.eamonryan.ie/contact/

http://www.fiannafail.ie/people/contact/conor-lenihan/

I emailed and rang both to find out who is responsible. They told me they'd call back. I suggest anyone else who cares do the same
087 9862517/ [email protected]
Intelligence is what you use when you dont know what to do

Adrians
Posts: 212
Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2007 1:22 pm

Re: Regulation of Kayaking and Canoeing in Ireland

Post by Adrians » Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:17 pm

Cheers Bosco,

That makes for some interesting reading, although with a cabnet reshuffle happening this afternoon we might have to contact some one else about this.

My only question with this is, would the above bill halt peopel from running courses that we not "ICU Courses" or would it just enforce that someone operates inside the guidelines set out by the Union?

A

roshaw_87
Posts: 55
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:37 pm
Location: Galway

Re: Regulation of Kayaking and Canoeing in Ireland

Post by roshaw_87 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 1:34 am

If you read the Bill and dail debates its all about public safety. whether a person gets a ICU cert or not does affect their safety, but weather a experienced and able instructor looks after them does. The Bill is aimed at centers that send 20 10 year olds old with a young level two trainee and a 16 year old who can barely kayak out on a day with off shore winds blowing a gale(my first instructing job) or guys that rent out kayaks to any passer by without consideration to how safe complete beginners might be alone on the water. Anyone who has gone through a NGB to receive training to run outdoor sports safely should want this Bill brought into effect to ensure there own reputation and that of the sport they love isn't tarnished by cowboy operators endangering lives and scaring people away from the sports.
087 9862517/ [email protected]
Intelligence is what you use when you dont know what to do

tiernan
Posts: 139
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2007 6:37 pm

Re: Regulation of Kayaking and Canoeing in Ireland

Post by tiernan » Wed Mar 24, 2010 12:45 pm

Shall will write letters, petition or just egg them till somethings do
A draft letter should be done up by someone in the know and posted somewhere, along with the email addresses of those in a position to receive it. Then everyone can sign and send that letter themselves. (I'd do it but have a feeling others know more about this that me)

I bet after 100 emails they will start to get the picture.

A "name and shame" of all companies who dont oblige regulations could also be employed. Vigilantism... always works a treat!

Rob Coffey
Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:10 pm

Re: Regulation of Kayaking and Canoeing in Ireland

Post by Rob Coffey » Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:08 pm

Personally I am against any attempt to bring about government regulation of the outdoor industry. As we all know our hugely competent government has not covered itself in glory in other areas, so why should we involve another layer of bureaucrats who know nothing about our sport?

Government regulation= more red tape, more costs etc.

Effective self regulation by the relevent NGBS, by all means, as is practiced by the Irish Sailing Association and Mountaineering Ireland. But government regulation? No thanks

I suggest you have a long think about the consequences before anyone starts a campaign for government regulation of our sport. Do you want the state to tell you what you can and can't do? We can follow the UK model of the nanny state, but personally I feel this is a really bad idea. I suggest the UK model of licensing brought about after the Lyme Bay accident has taken the 'adventure' out of adventure sports in Britain.

Personally I much prefer the kiwi/ Norwegian model. If you participate in adventure sports, know the risks and take responsibility for your actions. If you use a commercial provider do the relevent research and make sure they are legitimate.

Personal Responsibility vs government regulation? I'd take personal responsibility any day, even at the risk of the occasional accident.

bryanrichardson
Posts: 28
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 7:02 pm

Re: Regulation of Kayaking and Canoeing in Ireland

Post by bryanrichardson » Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:48 pm

Personally I much prefer the kiwi/ Norwegian model. If you participate in adventure sports, know the risks and take responsibility for your actions
I would be of this opinion also.

There is a mind-set in this country of 'A sure Jasus I'll give that a go'. Ok in certain sports but maybe not in Adventure sports.
Now I don't mean everyone heading into the hills or down the blackwater needs a mountain skills or a level 3 kayak cert, but the mentality of:

'Hmm kayaking(biking,climbing,hiking,caving,badgerwrestling)? I think I'll go get a litte bit more info about that before I jump in feet first', would be healthy and responsible.
Coupled with effective management by the n.g.b's as Rob was saying.

Has anyone done a p.a.d.i course for example? I think if a similar training ethos was applied to kayaking the need for any government regulation would be nullified.

Keep it simple people.

Adrians
Posts: 212
Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2007 1:22 pm

Re: Regulation of Kayaking and Canoeing in Ireland

Post by Adrians » Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:54 pm

The more I think about this the more I'm not sure of what I think is the correct way to go, nice to see a bit of debate on it for sure.
bryanrichardson wrote:Has anyone done a p.a.d.i course for example? I think if a similar training ethos was applied to kayaking the need for any government regulation would be nullified.
Nope,but would be interested to know more on what the divers way of doing it?

A

roshaw_87
Posts: 55
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:37 pm
Location: Galway

Re: Regulation of Kayaking and Canoeing in Ireland

Post by roshaw_87 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:50 pm

Effective self regulation by the relevent NGBS, by all means, as is practiced by the Irish Sailing Association and Mountaineering Ireland. But government regulation? No thanks
As it stands anyone can run hillwalking and sailing courses. They just can't hand out certs from the national governing bodies. There are four large centers in the area where I live and work, All ,including the Vec run center, send out unqualified Instructors to teach sessions. Some require that at least 1 of the instructors accompanying a large group be qualified, while the rest need a level two proficiency, others don't. this is not safe. They deal with hundreds of children at a time. Its not an accident waiting to happen, many avoidable accidents have happened. That is why a man without his son spent years getting this legislation brought through the dail.
I don't mean everyone heading into the hills or down the blackwater needs a mountain skills or a level 3 kayak cert
Nor do the writers of this bill. It states clearly that its to regulate commercial operators, not clubs or persons going out without a guide or instructor. Its board will have NGB representatives to oversee it. Its not trying to replace NGB's but to insist anyone offering to bring people out for money follow NGB guidelines.
I think I'll go get a litte bit more info about that before I jump in feet first
who better to go to then the most advertised Irish outdoor company? wait no they're one of the centers i mentioned above!

There is an argument to be made to say the qualified instructors shouldn't work out of ratio with unqualified instructors knowing this allows companies to advertise as having qualified instruction , but I don't feel this is fair as I lose out on work for protesting this practice and have had to comprise on this so I can pay rent and get by. I'd like to see regulation so I only have to compete with other qualified instructors for work who have also spent thousands between trips, training and assessments, spent countless hours practicing and logging hours so that they can lead groups safely.

Having never worked there I don't know how does the Norwegian system work?
087 9862517/ [email protected]
Intelligence is what you use when you dont know what to do

Adrians
Posts: 212
Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2007 1:22 pm

Re: Regulation of Kayaking and Canoeing in Ireland

Post by Adrians » Thu Mar 25, 2010 12:56 am

roshaw_87 wrote: I'd like to see regulation so I only have to compete with other qualified instructors for work who have also spent thousands between trips, training and assessments, spent countless hours practicing and logging hours so that they can lead groups safely.
I know it more personal reason than the safety aspects for such regulation this is also one of the reasons I'd like to see some sort of regulation.

As some one who also operates as a sole trader working for myself I also have the extra expense of public liablity / indemnity insurance and paying associated VAT and revenue.

There need to be some sort of regulation for many differant reasons but how such things could be implamented or monitored I honestly haven't thought about it enough.

I'd like to hear more about how other countries work this.


A

Post Reply