Confirmation has been received through the Federation’s Solicitors, Shean, Dickson, Merrick of High Street, Belfast, from the
R.U.C. with regard to the right of Clubs to advertise all types of dancing within private member clubs, as prescribed under the rates amendment act. This is a sensible outcome to what everyone
viewed as an outdated part of the Legislation. The fact that dancing is now categorised as a sport, which of course is to be included in the next Olympic Games, has we feel played a significant
part in the decision. The following letter is being forwarded to club secretaries.
To all club secretaries,
Following prolonged discussions we have at long last resolved the matter of advertising dancing and sports events within private member clubs in Northern Ireland.
Following deliberations, examination of the Legislation and in consideration of the European Human Rights Bill which confirmed our opinion, it was decided to instruct our solicitors, Shean, Dickson, Merrick, to obtain clarification of the legality of the public advertisement of functions in Registered Clubs and, if required, to prepare a test case through the courts.
Following discussions, attended by representatives from the President of the All Ireland Board of Ballroom Dancing, a submission was prepared and forwarded to the Chief Superintendent of each Police Division in Northern Ireland.
This submission set out our opinion that it would NOT constitute a breach of the Registration of Club (Northern Ireland) order 1996 to issue an advertisement for a function on Club premises involving dancing, including disco dancing, social dancing, jive dancing, line dancing, etc. We emphasised that such advertisements were intended only for the purposes of keeping Club members informed of such functions and were not for the purpose of inviting the public to attend.
In a joint response from RUC Headquarters at Knock, the RUC confirmed that our opinion was correct and that prosecution would not follow the issue of an advertisement for such a function. Accordingly, member Clubs are advised that it is lawful to issue an advertisement for a function which involves dancing, sport or physical recreation, or an activity.
Past events would indicate that Clubs should be aware that an advertisement may well bring the function to the attention of the RUC and local publicans and as such could result in complains. In view of this, we advise members to assure that doormen are fulfilling their role in line with requirements.
As dancing is now recognised as a sport I bring to your attention the following extracts from the Clubs Legislation (Northern Ireland) Order 1996. Full details of which can be found in the Club Management Manual.
1996 CLUBS ORDER - SCHEDULE 1 paragraph 12 & 13
(12) A guest of a member shall not be admitted to the club premises except in the company of a member and the member shall immediately, on the admission of his guest to the club premises, enter his name and the name of his guest in a book which shall be kept for that purpose, and which shall show the date of each visit.
(13) A person on payment of a fee to a sporting club, in respect of any day, may use, on that day, such facilities as the management committee or governing body of the club may determine - and Paragraph 12 shall not apply to that person in respect of that day.
EXTRACT OF LETTER FROM THE R.U.C.
Following advice, I can confirm that advertisements of the kind you describe would not lead to prosecution as a breach of Article 39.
Such advertisements, to keep members and properly introduced guests informed of events are permissible and indeed would help inspecting officers to pin-point occasions for inspection which they (not being members themselves) would not be aware of, in the normal course.
Events within the trade are of course of concern. These include changes in the structure of Guinness Northern Ireland and Bass Ireland. We are however assured that these changes will not affect, but rather add to the strength of the respective companies. We have agreed not to enter into speculation and look forward to forthcoming meetings with the respective companies shortly.
CLARIFICATION OF QUERIES RELATED TO HONORARY AND LIFE MEMBERS
Regarding queries related to Trustees and Honorary members holding office, we are pleased to confirm the following.
(a) On the basis that a Trustee generally holds Ordinary Membership, he/she can be elected to the committee, providing there is no bar in the clubs rule book, preventing his election.
(b) Honorary members: these can be ordinary members who have been honoured by their club, in recognition of services to the club, but who can be elected to office, in view of their ordinary membership status.
(c) Honorary members: This can be awarded to local dignitaries for services to their local community and society in general. but who do not hold any type of membership within the structure of the club. These individuals are not eligible to be elected to office.
(d) Life members: This is awarded to individuals who have been nominated by the club committee, in line with the club rule book. They are eligible to be elected to office.
(e) Honorary Members: (as specified in paragraph b), and life members are not required to pay an annual subscription, always providing this is in compliance with the club rule book.
These details have been submitted and agreed by R.U.C. ‘D’ Division.