Grenfell inquiry: UK Minister calls on Ulster Rugby urged to rethink Kingspan sponsorship

Watch UTV News reporter William Esler's report on the sponsorship row

A senior Conservative minister has written to Ulster Rugby asking the club to reconsider its relationship with Kingspan amid the ongoing Grenfell inquiry.

The side's Kingspan Stadium at Ravenhill has carried the insulation firm's name for nearly seven years, as part in a 10-year sponsorship deal sealed in 2014.

Kingspan's products were used in Grenfell Tower, London, where 72 people were killed in a fire four years ago.

The Irish insulation firm is also the club’s shirt sponsor.

The Belfast stadium's branding has come into Westminster politicians' focus in the aftermath of Formula 1 Team Mercedes' deal to scrap its sponsorship deal with Kingspan.

Credit: Presseye

The calls for the side to reassess its relationship with the sponsor have grown in recent weeks, as the Grenfell Inquiry into the tragic fire hears evidence criticising Kingspan’s business practices.

Kingspan has said that its K15 insulation product made up only 5% of the insulation in the tower block, and was used without its recommendation.

It has also said that the exterior cladding, which it did not manufacture, was deemed by the inquiry to be the “principal reason” for how quickly the fire spread.

72 lives were lost in the fire at Grenfell Tower Credit: ITV News

Michael Gove tweeted that he has written to Ulster Rugby to ask them to reconsider their relationship with Kingspan while the inquiry continues.

Sharing a copy of the letter, he added: “I will continue to pursue justice and accountability for the Grenfell community and those affected by building safety crisis”.

Earlier this month, F1 Team Mercedes announced they had ended their sponsorship deal with Kingspan, saying it was “not appropriate” to continue the partnership.

Criticism had heated up in recent weeks after the new deal was promoted, with Kingspan's logo appeared on Lewis Hamilton's at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

An Ulster Rugby spokesperson on Tuesday confirmed that chief executive Jonny Petrie received a letter from Mr Gove.

“The information contained within will be considered as part of an existing active review, and we won’t be making any further comment at this time,” the spokesperson said.