By Elaine LoughlinPolitical Reporter
The Government is under pressure to establish an independent task force to tackle spiraling motor-insurance premiums.
Speaking in the Dáil, Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath said the Government response was “not satisfactory. It is inadequate and it is woefully inept” and he called for immediate action: “The bottom line is that motorists have had enough of these unacceptable and unsustainable premium hikes.”
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said the Government was “concerned” about costs, adding that motor insurance was “a very important part of the household budget and the kind of increases we have seen have a serious impact”. She said Finance Minister Michael Noonan had asked his officials to examine the causes of the increasing cost of insurance.
Mr McGrath said “concern from Government is no longer enough. Motorists want action on the issue.” He called for an independent task force, which would be at “arms length” from the department. He said this should identify the causes of the increases and make recommendations to tackle the issue.
Mr McGrath said a protest had been organised for Dublin on July 1. “Thousands of cars will be in Dublin to make the point that people want action on the issue.”
He said there was “no silver bullet” to combat motor insurance costs, which have increased by 60% since the beginning of 2014 and have jumped by 35% in the past 12 months. But he added: “While the Government does not control the cost of premiums, it can influence many of the factors behind the level of increases we are witnessing.”
The homelessness crisis was also raised in the Dáil yesterday. It was claimed the problem had become so acute that local authorities were now being forced to make “impossible choices” and were turning away homeless families seeking emergency accommodation.
Sinn Féin’s Mary-Lou McDonald called on the Government to act immediately and raised the case of Áine, an 18-year-old mother who found herself without a place to sleep this week, but who was refused emergency accommodation by her local authority.
Ms McDonald said that, at 12.30am on Wednesday, “shivering and holding her infant child, she was collected by the rough-sleepers team and brought to a hostel”.
“Yesterday, Áine returned to her local council, only to be turned away,” she added.
However, Ms McDonald said families were being turned away by their local authorities because there was not enough accommodation.
Ms Fitzgerald said: “It is not tolerable that, in Ireland today, we have families and children, such as Áine, living in emergency accommodation or having difficulty accessing such accommodation.”
She said the Government had allocated extra funding to local authorities, this year, to provide emergency housing and that “many of the problems stem from the chronic lack of supply of housing”.
“Every possible action is being taken, in the most speedy manner, to ensure that families get the housing that they need,” said Ms Fitzgerald.
The Tánaiste said 500 rapid-built homes were being constructed in Dublin to take families out of hotels and other emergency accommodation.
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