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 Header Item Insurance Costs: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members] (Continued)
 Header Item Adjournment Debate Matters
 Header Item Memorandum of Understanding regarding Ireland's Participation in UK Battle Group: Motion

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 912 No. 2

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  1 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy] At the end of last year my colleague, Deputy Michael McGrath, during Leaders' Questions with the then Tánaiste, Deputy Burton, raised the need to establish this task force. Her reply was that the price of petrol at the pumps was falling. Quite simply, that showed the lack of priority that was given to it. Last night, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Mitchell O'Connor, confirmed that the data available to her Department from the Injuries Board does not support the sector's claim regarding the volume and cost of claims. However, less than 25% of claims go through the Injuries Board. There is an issue in that regard. The Department initiated a review of the Injuries Board in June 2014, but almost two years later the review is not complete. The Minister said last night that she hopes to seek Government approval of a draft Bill before the end of the year. What is the delay? Meanwhile, motorists are facing exorbitant, crippling premiums.

Last night, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, confirmed that he had been conscious of the issues for some time. However, it took until two months ago to establish a review. It is interesting how the review has suddenly become a task force. In reply to many of the parliamentary questions tabled by my colleague, Deputy Michael McGrath, it was always called a review. There was no mention of a task force. There is no clear timeframe for when this review is to report to the Minister. Will it take the same length of time as the Department is taking to review the Injuries Board? Will we be here two years hence still waiting for the conclusions of the review? The time for procrastination is over. It is time for action.

Yesterday, our party published a comprehensive action plan to deal with the exorbitant cost of motor insurance. One of its key pillars is the re-establishment of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board. We are not talking about reinventing the wheel. There is no need to wonder whether it will work because we have evidence that it worked in the past. When it was established in the early 2000s, the board contributed significantly to the reduction of premiums by approximately 40% between 2002 and 2013.

As a previous speaker indicated, we have all been contacted by various representatives of the different stakeholders to tell us it is not their fault that the cost of premiums is increasing. It is not the legal profession's fault and it is not the result of the insurance companies gouging people and seeking to increase their profits. While each stakeholder blames the other, the end user is being crippled. This is crippling jobs and having an impact on the cost of living and people's quality of life. A rural constituency such as mine does not have public transport. People need their cars to go to the shops, to work, to church or wherever they must go. At present, the cost of insurance is preventing people from using their cars, and it is preventing people who have two cars from using the second vehicle. We cannot wait, therefore, for an unknown length of time for a review - that suddenly has been ramped up to a task force - to report back on what must be done. The time for debate is over.

The Minister of State, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, whom I wish well in his new role, concluded by thanking Members for the opportunity to debate this important issue. We need not debate it further. We know what the issues are. What we need is action. By virtue of the fact that the Government is not opposing this motion, it is accepting its content. It is accepting the proposal to re-establish the Motor Insurance Advisory Board. We will return in a number of months to ask the Government what action it has taken to ensure that the men and women we represent do not continue to pay crippling motor insurance costs indefinitely into the future. They have been paying such costs for the past two years, which is too long. The time for that is over, as is the time for debate. The time for action is now. We will return before the summer recess to ask the Government what it has done with regard to the motion that the Dáil is now going to pass.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Motion, as amended, agreed to.

Adjournment Debate Matters

Acting Chairman (Deputy Alan Farrell): Information on Alan Farrell Zoom on Alan Farrell I wish to advise the House of the following matters in respect of which notice has been given under Standing Order 21 and the name of the Member in each case: (1) Deputy Eugene Murphy - the action and progress in alleviating the impact of the damage caused by the 2015-16 winter floods; (2) Deputies Alan Farrell, Thomas P. Broughan and Joan Burton - pollution from raw sewage and water quality issues on beaches and bays in north County Dublin, specifically at Rush and at Doldrum Bay, Howth, County Dublin; (3) Deputy Seán Haughey - continuation of further education and training courses at Trinity Adult Resource Group for Education and Training in Donaghmede, Dublin 13; (4) Deputy John Lahart - tonsillectomy waiting times at Tallaght Hospital in County Dublin; (5) Deputy Mary Butler - supporting Waterford Airport following the ending of the Waterford to Luton, England, service; (6) Deputies Dessie Ellis and Róisín Shortall - the funding crisis with the Young Ballymun strategy and if this model will be rolled out across the State; (7) Deputy David Cullinane - an urgent and targeted response to the Central Statistics Office's quarterly household survey for quarter 1 of 2016 that shows unemployment in the south east at 12.5%; (8) Deputy Joan Collins - the increase in the annual service charges by waste companies under the pay-by-weight scheme due to commence on 1 July 2016; (9) Deputy Mattie McGrath - funding of remedial and repair works to Ardfinnan Bridge in County Tipperary; (10) Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire - funding and delivery in respect of the Cork Events Centre; (11) Deputy Mick Wallace - the impact on the National Asset Management Agency of recent arrests by the National Crime Agency in Northern Ireland; (12) Deputy Clare Daly - decision of United Nations Human Rights Council stating Ireland's obligation to prevent violations of human rights by amending the law on abortion; and (13) Deputy Billy Kelleher - that the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport prioritise the North Ring Road, Cork, as a key infrastructure project for the economic and social development of the north side of Cork.

The matters raised by Deputies Dessie Ellis and Róisín Shortall, Seán Haughey, Eugene Murphy and Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire have been selected for discussion.

Memorandum of Understanding regarding Ireland's Participation in UK Battle Group: Motion

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I move:

That Dáil Éireann approves Ireland's accession to the Memorandum of Understanding concerning the principles for the establishment and operation of a Battlegroup to be made available to the European Union in the second half of the year 2016.

  Ireland's participation in the UK-led EU battle group is set in the context of our long-standing national policy. The term "battle group" is an unfortunate title. It is a technical military term intended to describe the size of the force rather that its role. The term does not accurately portray the tasks which such groups, if deployed, can carry out. They are designed to react rapidly to crisis situations and the tasks that are carried out relate to peacekeeping, conflict prevention and assistance to humanitarian operations. When it comes to these tasks, our national policy recognises the primacy of the United Nations. This is recognised in our triple-lock mechanism.

  In terms of EU policy, it is my view and that of the Government that the United Nations must continue to be the partner of choice for the EU. It is important, therefore, that we maintain a close engagement and collaborative relationship with the UN. Our traditional policy of military neutrality is unaffected by our involvement in EU battle groups. The establishment of EU battle groups is something the UN recognises and supports, as they facilitate rapid responses to emerging crisis situations. This is a key objective of the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy.

  The purpose of the EU battle groups is to undertake operations as outlined in the Amsterdam treaty. These operations, known as the Petersberg Tasks, include humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking. In the Lisbon treaty, these tasks were expanded to include joint disarmament operations, military advice and assistance tasks in supporting the reform and restructuring of security services and legal institutions in fragile states, conflict prevention, and post-conflict stabilisation.

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