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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 67-83
 Header Item Light Rail Projects
 Header Item Motor Tax
 Header Item Park-and-Ride Facilities
 Header Item Road Projects
 Header Item Light Rail Projects
 Header Item Rail Network
 Header Item Coast Guard Service
 Header Item Driver Test
 Header Item Bus Services
 Header Item Coast Guard Service
 Header Item Road Projects
 Header Item Primary Medical Certificates
 Header Item Insurance Coverage

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 999 No. 2
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 100 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 67-83

Light Rail Projects

 67. Deputy Mark Ward Information on Mark Ward Zoom on Mark Ward asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan if there are plans to enter the proposed Lucan Luas line and or extension in the planning process (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30039/20]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan As Minister for Transport, I responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. 

  The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area including light rail. 

  Project Ireland 2020 provides funding to undertake appraisal, planning and design of LUAS network expansions and the Department understands that the NTA have studies planned in 2021 to consider the possibility of a Luas Line to Lucan.

  Noting their responsibility in relation to this matter, I have referred your request to the NTA for their consideration and direct reply.  Please notify my office if you have not received a reply within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51

Motor Tax

 68. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan if he will provide provisions for coach and bus services that have been asked to pay back tax for several months as a consequence of being taken off the road and have not paid motor tax during the period in which they were off the road; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30079/20]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan Up to 2013, vehicles were declared off the road retrospectively.

The Non-Use of Motor Vehicles Act came into effect on 1 July 2013. The primary purpose of the Act was to replace the system whereby a vehicle was declared off the road retrospectively with a system under which the vehicle must be declared off the road in advance.

Under these provisions introduced in 2013, a declaration must be made in the last month of an existing motor tax disc or renewed in the last month of a previously made declaration of non-use. The declaration can be made for any number of calendar months between 3 and 12 months i.e. it cannot be made for a period of 1 or 2 months. If a vehicle is subsequently required to be put back on the road, the declaration can be broken at any time simply by taxing the vehicle.

Where a declaration is not made in advance, arrears of motor tax must be paid in full and motor tax paid for a minimum of 3 months before a declaration of non-use can then be made in the final month of the tax disc.

There are no plans to re-introduce retrospective declarations of non-use, the cost of which, at the time of introduction of the legislation, was estimated at some €110m annually.

Motor tax receipts are a significant contributor to Exchequer finances and form part of the means in ensuring that Covid-19 supports can continue in the short-term, in helping the re-building of the economy and in ensuring the ongoing provision of public services. In this regard, the Deputy will be aware that the Government has channelled significant Exchequer resources towards the introduction of an extensive range of supports for Covid-impacted businesses, including rates waivers, re-start grants, lending facilities, equity injection, business advisory supports and supports for businesses impacted by restrictions. In terms of social protections, resources have been allocated to the continuation of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and Wage Subsidy Schemes into next year.

Park-and-Ride Facilities

 69. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan if the need to include County Wexford will be examined in a programme (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30097/20]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan As the Deputy will be be aware, in line with Action 89 of the Climate Action Plan 2019, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has established a 'Park and Ride Development Office'.

I understand that the initial work of the Park and Ride Development Office is to prepare a Park and Ride Strategy, which will guide the NTA’s activities in this area over the coming years.  Most of the work of the office is focussed on providing strategic (regional level) park and ride facilities to enable access to the main urban areas, in addition to rail-based park and ride facilities at rail stations and key Luas stops.  More local park and ride facilities will continue to be the responsibility of the relevant local authority. 

In  relation to  Wexford, I understand that  the  NTA recognises  the  possible  potential  of  bus-based park  and  ride, particularly in the north end of the county.   Central to this is a proposal, currently under design development, to provide bus priority on the N11 / M11 national road between Kilmacanogue and Loughlinstown Roundabout, connecting them into a Core Bus Corridor linking into the City Centre. Accordingly, when those bus priority proposals on the N11 / M11 corridor are further advanced, the  NTA  will assess the potential for park and ride locations on this route, including in the north Wexford area.

Road Projects

 70. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan his plans for a roads project (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30146/20]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and securing exchequer funding in relation to the National Roads Programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 and in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), the maintenance, improvement and upgrading of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.  This is also subject to the Public Spending Code Guidelines and the necessary statutory approvals.   In this context, TII is best placed to advise you on the status of this project.

  Noting the above position, I have referred your question to TII for a direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51

Light Rail Projects

 71. Deputy Emer Higgins Information on Emer Higgins Zoom on Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the status and timeline of plans for the delivery of the Luas to Lucan, County Dublin. [30185/20]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan As Minister for Transport, I responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area including light rail. 

The National Development Plan provides funding to undertake appraisal, planning and design of LUAS network expansions and the Department understands that the NTA have studies planned in 2021 to consider the possibility of a Luas Line to Lucan.

Noting their responsibility in relation to this matter, I have referred your request to the NTA for their consideration and direct reply.  Please notify my office if you have not received a reply within 10 working days.

Rail Network

 72. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan for an Irish Rail engineers' report on the upgrades made to the Ballybrophy to Limerick rail line to determine if it is possible to increase speeds on the line to improve the service and entice more users; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30220/20]

 73. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan if he will work with Irish Rail to review the timetables on rural routes such as the Ballybrophy to Limerick and the Limerick Junction to Waterford lines and make minor changes to suit commuters and students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30221/20]

 74. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan if he will appoint a regional manager to oversee operations on rural lines in particular the Ballybrophy to Limerick line and to work with local third level institutions and large workplaces (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30222/20]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan I propose to take Questions Nos. 72 to 74, inclusive, together.

  As the Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. However, I am not involved in operational management of public transport.

  The matters raised are, in the first instance, for Iarnród Éireann and I have forwarded the Deputy's questions to the company for direct reply.

  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51

Coast Guard Service

 75. Deputy Cathal Crowe Information on Cathal Crowe Zoom on Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the make and model of all seafaring vessels based at each Irish Coast Guard station in tabular form; the number of crew at each station that have completed the appropriate training relating to the seafaring vessels based at their station in tabular form; the number of crew at each station that have not received appropriate training in regard to the seafaring vessels based at their station in tabular form; and the number of crew based at each station in tabular form. [30253/20]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan Irish Coast Guard units carry out Search, Cliff, Boat and Drone functions, dependent on their location and terrain. Of the 44 coastal units 21 currently have boat functions, along with other conformations of Search, Cliff and Drone capabilities.

  Enrolled members of boat units are only considered boat crew when they have received the appropriate training in accordance with the IRCG Boat Operations Manual 2019 for their position on board.

  Qualifications, training and exercises must be maintained by all IRCG boat crew in order for them to remain operational. The level of trained boat crew, at all levels, in each of the boat units, is kept under constant review to ensure the operational efficiency of the unit. There is currently no unit "off-the-board" for lack of training.

  Please see below table A for the make and model of all seafaring vessels based at each Irish Coast Guard station and Table B for the number of Coast Guard members with Boat Training, the number of non boat crew members (which may include volunteers trained for other functions such as climbing, instructors, school visits and other officer positions, etc) and the overall number of members in a unit as requested.

  Table A

Station Vessel make & model
Greenore Humber 5.8m
Drogheda D-Class
Howth Delta 6.8m
Greystones D-Class
Crosshaven Delta 7.9m
Old Head Of Kinsale D-Class
Toehead Delta 7.0m
Toehead D-Class
Schull Ribcraft 6.5m
Goleen D-Class
Castletownbere D-Class
Dingle Delta 7.5m
Kilkee Delta 7.9m
Kilkee D-Class
Doolin Delta 9.0m
Doolin D-Class
Costello Bay Delta 7.5m
Costello Bay D-Class (T5)
Westport Delta 7.9m
Westport D-Class
Achill Island Delta 8.0m
Achill Island D-Class
Killala Delta 8.0m
Killala D-Class
Killybegs Delta 8.0m
Bunbeg Delta 9.0m
Mulroy Bay Delta 8.0m
Mulroy Bay D-Class
Greencastle Delta 9.0m
Greencastle D-Class


  Table B
IRCG BOAT UNITS NUMBER OF MEMBERS WITH BOAT TRAINING NON BOAT CREW NUMBER OF TOTAL ACTIVE MEMBERS
Drogheda 22 0 22
Greenore 13 8 21
Greystones/Wicklow 25 4 29
Howth 26 1 27
Dunmore East 11 3 14
Crosshaven 21 1 22
Goleen 16 3 19
Schull 17 2 19
Old Head of Kinsale/Seven Heads 12 12 24
Toe Head/Glandore 30 0 30
Castletownbere 15 1 16
Dingle 24 4 28
Killaloe 16 0 16
Achill 17 4 21
Costelloe Bay/North Aran 18 0 18
Doolin/South Aran 28 0 28
Kilkee 11 0 11
Westport 19 7 26
Bunbeg/Tory Island 27 4 31
Greencastle 27 1 28
Killala 12 0 12
Killybegs 17 6 23
Mulroy Bay 24 0 24
TOTALS 448 61 509

Driver Test

 76. Deputy Colm Burke Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan if changes proposed under EU Regulation 2020/698 to the A2 motorcycle driver licence test are to be adopted on 1 November 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30268/20]

 77. Deputy Colm Burke Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan if changes are proposed to the A2 motorcycle driver licence test; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30269/20]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan I propose to take Questions Nos. 76 and 77 together.

The requirements for test vehicle motorcycles category A2 to be used during the practical driving test are to be adapted to technical progress, in particular to combustion engine and chassis development and to the wider use of electric motorcycles. The adaptation of the technical specifications for category A2 test vehicles should also ensure that applicants are tested on vehicles that are representative of the category for which the driving licence would be issued.

EU Directive 2020/612 provides for the reduction of the minimum requirement for category A2 motorcycles, powered by an internal combustion engine. Legislation changes to the Road Traffic (Licensing of Drivers) Regulations are being progressed to adopt this provision by 1 November 2020.

Bus Services

 78. Deputy Cathal Crowe Information on Cathal Crowe Zoom on Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the way in which County Clare will benefit from the expanded local bus service detailed in and funded by the July stimulus plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30307/20]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan As the Deputy is aware, under the July Stimulus Plan, I announced the introduction before the end of the year of a number of new bus services in addition to enhancement and improvement of a number of existing services.

The National Transport Authority (NTA), in conjunction with the relevant transport operators, is tasked with the introduction and enhancement of these services and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51

Coast Guard Service

 79. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the progress made to date in providing a permanent Irish Coast Guard facility in north Connemara at the site of the airstrip at Cluain Leacht an Abba, An Cloigeann; the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30310/20]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan The Cleggan Unit of the Coast Guard is on the priority list for the OPW Building Programme. My Department provides the funding for these projects. However OPW are the project managers. I understand they are currently considering various options for a suitable site for the Cleggan Unit, including evaluating the airstrip site and any other possible sites available in the area that meet the functional requirements of the unit. OPW have been in contact with the relevant Department officials at DEHLG with a view to progressing the matter and advancing necessary planning permissions. Under the Public Spending Code, OPW have to evaluate all potential sites in the Cleggan area.

In the meantime, Cleggan Coat Guard Unit vehicles and equipment remain at the Cleggan air strip which is primarily a storage facility and the Unit are engaging with the local community with the intention of accessing possible buildings for training purposes.

Road Projects

 80. Deputy Patricia Ryan Information on Patricia  Ryan Zoom on Patricia  Ryan asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the status of the Athy distributor route; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30325/20]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant local authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants.

Project Ireland 2040 identifies a programme of regional and local road improvement projects to be progressed with grant support and the Athy Southern Distributor Road is one of those projects. Implementation of the programme of projects is on a phased basis and progression of each project is subject to the profile of annual capital allocations available to the Department.

Implementation of the Athy scheme is the responsibility of Kildare County Council. Grant funding of €3.5 million has been allocated to the Council for this project in 2020.

Primary Medical Certificates

 81. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the status of the processing of medical certificates (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30061/20]

 82. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the status of an application for a service by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30102/20]

 84. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the status of an application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30155/20]

 85. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the status of an application for a service by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30156/20]

 86. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the status of an application for a service by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30157/20]

 87. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Sean Sherlock Zoom on Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if he has had regard to the Supreme Court judgment that has caused the cessation of the scheme to assist persons with disabilities in mobility grants such as VRT, toll free journeys and VAT. [30190/20]

 96. Deputy Seán Canney Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if he has suspended the applications process for primary medical certificates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29821/20]

 97. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans to ensure that processing of applications for primary medical certificates for tax relief available to disabled drivers will recommence following a decision of the Supreme Court; his plans to introduce new legislation or a statutory instrument as a result of the judgement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29835/20]

 111. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Sean Sherlock Zoom on Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the measures he will introduce for persons with disabilities in the area of VRT and VAT; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30189/20]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 81, 82, 84 to 87, inclusive, 96, 97 and 111 together.

The Disabled Drivers & Disabled Passengers Scheme provides relief from VRT and VAT on the purchase and use of an adapted car, as well as an exemption from motor tax and an annual fuel grant. The cost of the scheme in 2019, excluding motor tax, was €72m.

The Scheme is open to severely and permanently disabled persons as a driver or as a passenger and also to certain organisations. In order to qualify for relief an organisation must be entered in the register of charitable organisations under Part 3 of the Charities Act 2009, be engaged in the transport of disabled persons and whose purpose is to provide services to persons with disabilities.

In order to qualify for relief the applicant must hold a Primary Medical Certificate (PMC) issued by the relevant Senior Area Medical Officer (SAMO) or a Board Medical Certificate (BMC) issued by the Disabled Driver Medical Board of Appeal. Certain other criteria apply in relation to the vehicle and its use, including that the vehicle must be specially constructed or adapted for use by the applicant.

The terms of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994 set out the following medical criteria, and that one or more of these criteria is required to be satisfied in order to obtain a PMC:

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

- be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

- be without both hands or without both arms;

- be without one or both legs;

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg;

- have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

A Supreme Court decision of 18 June found in favour of two appellants against the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal's refusal to grant them a PMC. The judgement found that the medical criteria set out in the Regulations did not align with the regulation making mandate given in the primary legislation to further define criteria for ‘severely and permanently disabled’ persons.

The Deputies will appreciate that the complex legal and policy issues raised by the Supreme Court decision will require careful consideration. In parallel to that consideration there is a need to examine how best the Scheme can target resources to those persons who most need them. My officials are currently examining the judgement, in conjunction with the Attorney General’s Office, and will bring forward any policy and/or legislative proposals, as necessary, for my consideration in due course.

In the interim, on foot of the legal advice received, it became clear that it was appropriate to revisit the six medical criteria set out in Regulation 3 of Statutory Instrument 353 of 1994 for these assessments. In such circumstances, it is not proposed to continue with PMC assessments until a revised basis for such assessments is established. The medical officers who are responsible for conducting PMC assessments need to have assurance that the decisions they make are based on clear criteria set out in legislation. While Regulation 3 of Statutory Instrument No. 353 of 1994 was not deemed to be invalid, nevertheless it was found to be inconsistent with the mandate provided in Section 92 of the Finance Act 1989.

My officials were in contact with the Medical Board of Appeal and with officials in the Department of Health and will continue to liaise with them, as required, going forward. I have also written to the Minister for Health to request that there are no further PMC assessments until a sound legal basis for such assessments is re-established.

While it is regrettable that PMC assessments are currently not taking place and I acknowledge that this will result in a growing waiting list, I anticipate that the work that is currently ongoing in relation to this matter will provide a proper basis for me to make a decision on the best pathway forward and to address the current legal uncertainty surrounding the Scheme. I can give a commitment that I will seek to bring clarity to this situation as soon as possible such that PMC assessments can re-continue based on a firm legal basis.

Finally, I would like to clarify that the Scheme itself is still operating. All persons or charitable organisations that can currently access the Scheme will continue to be able to do so and make claims for tax reliefs and the fuel grant in the normal manner.

Insurance Coverage

 83. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the measures he is taking to address the price and lack of choice for insurance cover for walking and mountaineering guides; if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties in the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30145/20]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Let me say at the outset that I am very much aware of the problems faced by many businesses in relation to the availability and affordability of public liability insurance, including those in the tourism sector, such as walking and mountaineering guides. However, as this is a commercial matter, neither I, nor the Central Bank of Ireland, can direct the pricing of insurance products, and neither can we compel any insurer operating in the Irish market to provide cover. This position is reinforced by the EU Single Market framework for insurance (the Solvency II Directive) which expressly prohibits Member States from doing so. What Government can do is to make reforms designed to improve matters and this is the focus of this Government.

In that regard and as the Deputy will appreciate, there is no single policy or legislative fix to remedy the cost and availability of insurance issue, however insurance reform is a key policy priority for this Government and this is reflected in the Programme for Government (PfG). There are a number of areas that require reform and this is why making progress on these problems requires a ‘whole-of-Government’ approach as recognised in the PfG. This lays out specific commitments that are aimed at addressing consumer and business concerns on the cost of insurance. These include increasing transparency on claims; reviewing duty of care legislation; looking at how to further enhance the role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board; minimising the scope for questionable claims; and increasing competition in the market.

Implementation of this agenda will be a key issue for myself and Minister of State Fleming as well other members of Cabinet, especially those that will be working on this through the recently established Cabinet Committee on Economic Recovery and Investment’s Sub-Group on Insurance Reform. This Sub-Group held its inaugural meeting on 1 October and identified a number of key deliverables to be progressed before the end of 2020. The Sub-group is chaired by the Tánaiste, and also includes myself, Ministers McGrath, McEntee, and O’Gorman, together with Ministers of State Troy and Fleming as standing members. I believe that this Sub-Group provides the best opportunity to address the cost and availability of insurance through a cross-Governmental response. We will build and expand upon the previous commendable work done by the Cost of Insurance Working Group.

As you will be aware, a number of important reforms have already taken place, and the impact of these is reflected in the recent CSO data which indicate that the cost of private motor insurance is now almost a third cheaper than at its peak in July 2016. The Sub-Group will focus on those reforms needed to ensure that similar reductions in cost can be extended to other areas of insurance, most notably, Employer and Public Liability insurance, which are among the main concerns for businesses such as those mentioned in the question.

Undoubtedly, in that regard, a necessary step is to bring the levels of personal injury damages awarded in this country more in line with those awarded in other jurisdictions. The establishment of the Judicial Council last December is very important in this regard, and it is expected that the Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee will submit draft Guidelines to the Judicial Council before the end of the year. It is desirable that the Guidelines could play a role in the lowering of award levels and also could lead to a more consistent application of making awards in courts. Insurance Ireland has indicated that if award levels come down so will premiums charged by its members. I believe that this is a very important statement and this Government intends holding the insurance industry to this commitment.

In conclusion, the Deputy can rest assured that in addition to all the other measures that Government has taken over recent months to support smaller businesses, such as those in the tourism sector, the issue of insurance reform is a key priority issue for this Government. In that context we will continue to seek to ensure that progress is made in this policy area.


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