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Order of Business

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Senator Rónán Mullen

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

I have often, along with others in the House, had occasion to criticise the media for various reasons over the years. One thing for which The Irish Times deserves great credit has been its longtime sponsorship of its debating competition which has done so much to encourage excellence in debating in third level colleges. In that regard, I hope the Cathaoirleach does not mind if I acknowledge the presence in the Visitors Gallery today of Professor Brent Northup of Carroll College in Helena, Montana who has been a stalwart supporter of the debating competition. He is here with William Courtney, the current individual debating champion. I hope the House will join me in welcoming them today.
I highlight an issue which is causing undue financial hardship to young people who are returning to Ireland to work. The sad reality is that in recent years tens of thousands of young Irish men and women have left our shores to find work. As everybody knows, as the economy soured and weakened, the numbers leaving grew. The flow of young people from our shores has somewhat reversed in recent months. Many young people find upon their return to find work in Ireland that when they try to buy a car and set out to make a living, they are hit by enormous car insurance bills. At a recent funeral in Mountbellew I spoke to a woman from Aughrim who described how her two sons who had returned from Australia are self-employed and living in a rural area. They need cars to work and were shocked to find that the time they spent driving claims-free in Australia and England did not count. Those years are not transferable and are not recognised by insurance companies in Ireland. They are being hit with premiums of up to €3,500, which is absolute madness when one considers that those young people are not responsible for the economic failure which forced them away in the first place. Why should they be indirectly penalised in this way on their return?
The young people to whom I referred have about 23 years of claims-free insured driving between them. They are in their early 30s and are being treated as new drivers because of the gap in their insured driving record. Despite their attempts to show that they have been driving safely in Australia and Britain, the insurance company hit them with large bills. I would like the Leader to communicate this growing problem to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in order that he can issue guidelines to the insurance companies to recognise safe driving abroad as reckonable when calculating insurance premiums. It should not be beyond our wit and ingenuity to solve this problem. It is a serious injustice to young people who are trying to get started again in our country. Anything less than statutory guidelines will result in them being penalised. I would be very grateful if the Leader could inform us as to what the Government can do about this matter.