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Ulster Rugby questioned over Kingspan sponsorship amid Grenfell Tower inquiry

Sponsor Kingspan examined as part of inquiry into fire that killed 72 people


Home ground: Ulster in action at the Kingspan stadium. Credit: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Home ground: Ulster in action at the Kingspan stadium. Credit: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Home ground: Ulster in action at the Kingspan stadium. Credit: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Ulster Rugby has said that it will not be making any comment whilst the Grenfell tower inquiry is ongoing, after the club was asked what the future of its relationship with lead sponsor Kingspan would be.

Kingspan is now being examined as part of an inquiry into how Grenfell Tower came to be coated in flammable materials which contributed to the spread of flames, which shot up the tower in June 2017, killing 72 people.

K15 insulation was one of the Irish building materials firm’s products installed on Grenfell Tower during a refurbishment.

However, Kingspan said it “played no role in the design of the cladding system on Grenfell Tower, where its K15 product constituted approximately 5% of the insulation and was used as a substitute product without Kingspan’s knowledge in a system that was not compliant with the building’s regulations”.

The Belfast Telegraph also asked Ulster Rugby also for their views on a statement made by Sir Lewis Hamilton, in which he said he had “nothing” to do with Mercedes’ F1 team’s partnership deal with Kingspan after their logo appeared on his car for the first time at the weekend.

A spokesperson for Ulster Rugby said: “In relation to your query, we will not be making any comment whilst the inquiry is ongoing.”.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff apologised to Grenfell survivors and bereaved relatives, and thanked campaign group Grenfell United for an offer to meet following its condemnation of the deal with Kingspan. The group had written to Mr Wolff urging him to end the deal.

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He said that his team had “engaged with Kingspan in depth to understand what role their products played in what happened at Grenfell” and that “Kingspan have stated that they played no role in the design or construction of the cladding system on Grenfell Tower”.

UK Communities Secretary Michael Gove said the Government could amend advertising rules on racing cars if Mercedes does not pull the partnership with Kingspan, but failed to mention or acknowledge Ulster Rugby’s affiliation with the firm, including its home stadium being named after it. According to The Irish Times, Grenfell United confirmed “that no political support has ever been forthcoming in their campaign to get Ulster also to stop platforming Kingspan”.

Almost a year ago, the campaign organisation reportedly wrote to the Ulster side asking them to cut ties with the insulation firm.

They said that the Belfast-based club’s response did not arrive until over a month later, in which they “cited the length of their relationship with Kingspan (going back to 1999) and legal problems with providing any comment or making a decision while the inquiry is still ongoing”. Kingspan added that it supports the inquiry’s work to “determine what went wrong and why”.

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