Chairman’s Address – AGM 2010

Chairman’s Address – AGM 2010

Good afternoon, and on behalf of the Board of MAG Ireland I would like to wish you all a very warm welcome for our 2010 Annual General Meeting. I’d like to thank the St, John’s GAA club for allowing us the use of their premises. I hope that that you will all enjoy today’s meeting and participate in the discussions, MAG is your organisation and your active involvement is vital.

Successful political operators find a division in the enemy and exploit it. To many governmental and statutory bodies at Local, National and International levels, we motorcyclists are the enemy. Their ultimate aim, whether for so-called safety reasons or otherwise, is to legislate motorcycles off the roads entirely.

There are differences between the approach taken by various riders rights organisations in pursuit of our rights as riders, just as there are differences of opinion between us as bikers in pursuit of our own unique experience of biking. The strongest argument against further restrictions on us as motorcycles is that no further restrictions are necessary, but this flies in the face of the hollow political ideology that bikes are somehow dangerous and therefore require that they or their riders be somehow restricted.

Policy failure is often the reason for political intervention. Yet policy failure will always result from an approach which treats motorcycling as a “problem” to which some all-encompassing “solution” must be found. It is precisely this politicising of our hobby, our lifestyle, our choice to ride motorcycles, which ultimately forces us to defend our basic right to ride a motorcycle in the first place.

MAG Ireland needs the support of Irish riders towards the common goal of our basic right to ride a motorcycle unencumbered by spurious politically motivated restrictions of any sort. There have always been, and will always be, differences of opinion regarding how best to achieve our objectives. Each substantive decision taken by MAG will inevitably alienate some who feel that a different approach could or should have been taken. MAG Ireland makes it’s choices in the best interest of it’s membership. Some choices will always be divisive, but they are made in pursuit of the overall goal of defending our right to ride. Now more than ever, we as riders need to present a united front towards that common goal.

Over the last year there has been some progress in areas which MAG has been campaigning on for some years:

1 . Bus lanes: This continues to drag on. The trialled use of bus lanes in London has been extended and it seems that authorities both there and here are waiting for the final report on that before making any further decisions. We are trying to get meetings with both Labour and Fine Gael’s transport spokespersons with a view to the next election. We need to continue to push this issue until a
satisfactory result is achieved.

2 . Motorway tolls: With the exception of the M50 Westlink and Eastlink toll bridges, all other tolled motorways charge motorcyclists for their passage. As the State cannot afford to buy
out any more toll operators, this position is unlikely to change in the near future. However traffic volumes may eventually cause other tolled roads to adopt similar technology to that used on the
Westlink toll which, as it involves photographing forward facing numberplates, neatly exempts motorcycles.

3 . Insurance: Though few in number, we still have four insurers namely Aon/Axa, Carol Nash, Adelaide and Quinn. The Insurance Federation expects premiums to rise by up to 20% in the coming years. We wrote to both the Quinn Administrator and the Financial Regulator asking them to ensure that Quinn and it’s eventual new owner, if sold, continues to offer motorcycle insurance. MAG will
continue to campaign for the removal of barriers to competition, and will seek that greater choice be provided to all riders including novices.

4 . Compulsory basic training: All new first time learner permit holders with effect from 6th December 2010 for motorcycles and 4th April 2011 for cars will be required to undertake mandatory initial basic training (IBT) with an approved driving instructor (ADI). The course will be 16 hours for motorcycle and 12 hours for car licences.

5 . Parking: Dublin City Council has inserted the requirement to provide for bike parking into the next Draft Plan for the city, also requiring the planners to build a percentage of bike parking into apartment car parks etc for future developments. If one local authority has done this, it will be easier to get others to do so in the future.

6 . Europe: MAG has continued to be active over the past year on the European front, as a member of FEMA, the Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations. FEMA have been
organising opposition to wire rope barriers and EU legislation to ban same is at an advanced stage. On the national level, several countries have already stopped new wire rope being installed, and some are removing it in particularly hazardous locations such as bends. Even here the more recent new motorways do not have wire rope barriers and the NRA is aware that it has a problem in this regard. MAG Ireland will continue to campaign in Ireland to have these dangerous installations removed as quickly as possible.

This has not been an easy year financially for MAG – however the 10 year lease on our office in Inchicore expired in November 2009 and we successfully negotiated a new Lease arrangement at a reduced rent and with a 6 month break clause should we find ourselves unable to afford to maintain a shopfront office. The opening hours have been reduced to half days on Wednesday & Friday afternoons and a full day on Tuesdays to avoid having to pay any staff costs. Membership is static if not slowly declining and it is seems increasingly difficult to persuade many bikers of the benefits of joining and supporting a national organisation devoted to protecting and promoting motorcycling. MAG has no substantial
source of income except for it’s members subscriptions and our ability to campaign can be painfully limited to the available free time given by the board members. We need both more members and more volunteers – a tough request in a era where everyone seems to be both cash and time starved!

Progress has been made on an overhaul of the MAG website which has been completely updated and we are close to rolling out a completly new website to include online membership applications, an online shop for MAG goods and an option for online polls.

I would like to close by thanking everyone who has supported MAG in the last twelve months. Whether by subscribing; be encouraging others to join; by giving up their time to help run a local group; by setting up a new local group; by manning a MAG Stand at a rally or show; everything that MAG does for the benefit of motorcycling depends on voluntary support.

Thank you.

I would also like to thank my fellow members on the outgoing Board – Linda O’Loideoin, Marc O’Loideoin, Peter Bartlett and Declan McGuire for the great efforts they have made for the benefit of MAG over the last year. I would also like to thank all those who have been involved in MAG at the local group level, whether by organising group meetings or by participating.

Most importantly, I would like to thank you all for attending today, and wish a prosperous and safe year ahead to you all. I hope that MAG will continue to receive your support in the coming year.

Thank you.

Gearóid O Byrne
Saturday, 25th September 2010

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