Northern Ireland can’t afford to lose the Ulster Grand Prix after nearly 100 years, DUP MP Ian Paisley has said.
The iconic and historic road race is facing a “major financial crisis” as it approaches its 100th anniversary and is in imminent danger of “disappearing from the road racing calendar”, organisers revealed today.
DUP MPs Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and Mr Paisley, speaking to the News Letter, stressed the importance of keeping the event alive.
Mr Paisley, who chairs the Northern Ireland motorsports task force established in 2017, said: “Obviously they (event organisers) briefed us a few days ago about their intentions.
“Look, they’ve got a brilliant business plan in place going forward but there’s an historic problem here that we’re going to have to try and help them resolve.
“What Sir Jeffrey and I have decided is that, immediately after the election is over, we need the appropriate people to meet with them – that would be people from tourism, the secretary of state, the minister of sport – to see if there’s some sort of package of measures that we can do to really help the Grand Prix.”
He continued: “It is a key event for Northern Ireland and we really can’t afford to lose it.
“Historic difficulties, coupled with a couple of difficult years in terms of funding, can’t be allowed to break this down.
“Every effort is going to be made, I know, by both the local MPs and by myself to try and get this to a good place.”
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: “I met with the club alongside my party colleagues Ian Paisley, who chairs the motorsport task force, and the local MP Paul Girvan. We have been meeting with the club on a number of occasions and we are planning to set up further meetings to see what additional support might be available.
“This is one of the most historic road races in the world and it is the fastest road race in the world.”
Robert Graham, chairman of the Dundrod and District Motorcycle Club, said: “In the absence of significant financial support, the Ulster Grand Prix is in real and imminent danger of disappearing from the road racing calendar.”