further update to rates

As you will see vote went through and pigeon racing will be added to the list of prescribed activities which benefit from an 80% Rates reduction.

Still one or two hurdles to overcome before it is finalised but this represents a significant breakthrough, not least because it had the support of all the parties with the exception of the DUP. Bodes well for the future.

update to rates information

all organisations are requesting their members to contact their MLA,S to ask them to support this amendment which will be raised at Stormont on Monday coming , it is in all our interests to get Pigeon Racing recognised as a sport .

Fred Russell

Secty NIPA

Below is the email I have received from R Swann re this matter

Hi Gents,
Please be aware my amendment has been accepted to the Rates Amendment Order, which could see pigeon racing recognised as a Prescribed Recreation which would leave it eligible for Rates Relief.
 It will be debated on Monday. Appreciate if you could ask your members to contact all MLAs to ask them to support this amendment.
I have asked other Parties to let me know their Party position, so I’ll update when I know.

Robin Swann
Chief Whip Ulster Unionist Party


Rates amendment order update NIPA

Just for an update, we have a new Finance Minister, who has brought forward a “Rates amendment order” it was debated yesterday. I am going to take the outside opportunity to use this as a means to get “pigeon racing” added to the prescribed Activites list which would see a rate relief of 80% applied but depending on how this Bill goes it may move up to 100%, I have still to meet the Minister to iron out the details, but its another marker put down.

From yesterdays debate

Mr Swann:
I congratulate the Minister on his new role. He will be aware of what I am bringing forward here. He mentioned earlier that he will hear arguments repeated time and time again. I can assure you, Minister, that you have not heard this argument repeatedly; not in the past four years, today or, probably, in the next four years. With regard to the Bill and the opportunity that presented itself following Daithí McKay’s private Member’s Bill on rates relief for community amateur sports clubs, I feel that there has been the exclusion of one particular sport from the Rates (Recreational Hereditaments) Order (Northern Ireland) 2007. That is the sport of pigeon racing. Clause 1 refers to the Rates (Northern Ireland) Order 1977. It is that order that actually sets out the prescribed definition of recreations as recognised by LPS. As I said, they are set out in the 2007 order. I am well aware that pigeon racing is not recognised as a sport either by Sport NI or currently by DCAL, but that is an issue that I am working on with them both at a Northern Ireland level through the Northern Ireland Pigeon Association and a UK level through the Royal Pigeon Racing Association. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure has been in support of that.

I am trying to take the opportunity through the rates relief Bill to amend the LPS hereditaments order from 2007, because it is disingenuous that some sports are listed under that 2007 prescribed activities list but are not recognised as sports by Sport NI. I feel that there is an opportunity to introduce pigeon racing in that, and that would allow it to avail itself of the 80% rate relief that is currently there or potentially give the Minister the opportunity, through regulation, to bring that up to 100% rate relief. By bringing this forward as part of the Bill, I am also giving the Minister an opportunity to be a trailblazer and a champion for pigeon men and women across Northern Ireland.

I could go on at great length about why I believe pigeon racing should be recognised as a sport and how I hope it will be in future. The European sports charter sets that out quite clearly. The Minister referred to it and to where his Department takes guidance from. That definition allows sport to be described as:

“improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming social relationships or obtaining results in competition at all levels.”

I believe that that scope is wide enough to include pigeon racing.

Some of the Minister’s officials have recommended that pigeon clubs take the opportunity to become charities. I do not think that that is a realistic possibility for many clubs across Northern Ireland due to their membership and demographic, especially the age range. It would exclude more clubs than it would allow.

In his opening comments, the Minister mentioned the possibility of bringing forward changes in regulations rather than through the Bill. He will know that, at this minute in time, I am minded to bring forward an amendment to the Bill, but if I could have a conversation with him and see that it might be better done under regulations, I am prepared to do that for the sake of the sport. When he is taking forward his targeted consultations — I think that that was the phrase that he used in his opening comments — and when his departmental officials are drawing up a list of the groups that they will specifically target for that consultation, I ask him to include the Royal Pigeon Racing Association, the Northern Ireland Pigeon Association, the Irish Homing Union, northern region, the Ulster Federation and the East Down Combine of pigeon clubs. I want to put a marker down that, through the progress of the Bill, I would like to take the opportunity that has been presented to include pigeon racing under its scope.

Minister Storey :
Let me come on to the issue raised by Mr Swann about pigeons. It is no anomaly that Mr Swann raises an issue to do with pigeons, but I am not going to make a play on words about his name. I am happy to meet him to have a discussion, because he raises a concern, as we all have to do as public representatives when we are lobbied on an issue. If you have a particular interest or have a particular organisation come to you, it is right and proper that we give due consideration to whatever that issue is. However, the Bill may not be the best vehicle for extending rate relief to pigeon clubs.

I will quote article 31 of the 1977 Order, which details prescribed recreation. Maybe the Member will think it through, and we will then have a discussion on it. It states:”‘prescribed recreation’ means a recreation, whether conducted indoors or outdoors, which in the opinion of the Department demands an appreciable degree of physical effort and which is of a kind specified”by DFP through subordinate legislation. We will, I think, get into a bit of a debate about where the appreciable degree of physical effort comes from. In that case, it comes more from the pigeon than from the pigeon owner. I am happy to give way to the Member.

Mr Swann:
I thank the Minister for that point. Bearing in mind the business that is to take place over the rest of the day, I said to the Minister when I was making my contribution that I could get into that debate at length. I am sure that he is aware that the Rates (Recreational Hereditaments) Order 2007 already covers activities such as model powerboating, model airplane flying and wildfowling. In my belief, it is about the racing, flagging and training of pigeons, not the actual physical racing, in which it is the pigeon rather than the owner that competes. I will give the Minister that. There are, however, activities already covered that involve the same degree, if not a lesser degree, of physical activity as that of the owner of the pigeon, but I am not going to get into that debate today.

Mr Storey:
I thank the Member for his intervention. I will come back to him shortly to confirm when we will meet. We will have a lengthy discussion on the issue. He makes his point well. It is not my place to put that issue aside and not give it the consideration that it deserves.

In conclusion, I thank Members for their contributions to the debate

I have been in contact with our Assembly Bill’s Office and have drafted this amendment :-

“Amendment 1 : New Clause : Before Clause 1 insert –

‘The Schedule to the Rates (Recreational Hereditaments) Order (Northern Ireland) 2007 (list of specified recreations) is amended as follows.

After “Petanque (Boule)” and before “Polo” insert “Pigeon Racing”.’ (or) Where appropriate insert “Pigeon Racing”.

Link to the Bill : http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/assembly-business/legislation/primary-legislation-current-bills/rates-amendment-bill2/
Link to the debate : http://aims.niassembly.gov.uk/officialreport/report.aspx?&eveDate=2016/01/19&docID=254974 (around 12:00 onwards)


Robin Swann MLA

Chief Whip Ulster Unionist Party
& Chair of the Employment & Learning Committee

Doing What’s Right for Northern Ireland

Tel: 028 2565 9595
Mobile: 078 0182 9553
Address : 13/15 Queen Street Ballymena BT42 2BB

Visit our website at www.uup.org or my website at www.robinswannmla.com


Request. Rates on Pigeon Clubrooms.

Would any pigeon clubs based in Northern Ireland who receive an annual rates bill from Land & Property Services please contact the N.I.P.A. secretary.

Telephone number 028 92693913 or by email nipapigeons@hotmail.co.uk

This information is need to assist with lobbying to try and have pigeon clubrooms exempt from paying rates.

 Could all pigeon clubs based in Northern Ireland who pay rates assist with this request.

The information is required by Tuesday 2nd November 2015.

Thank you.