During Finance Questions, junior minister Michael Darcy said he could not guarantee full repayment to the near 1,600 victims, but he and his officials would do “their very best” to ensure the best possible return.
He said the High Court can order payments out of the Insurance Compensation Fund up to 65%, or €825,000, whichever is the lesser. The liquidator has confirmed to the department that, as of June 20, the number of open claims is 1,578.
Mr Darcy told Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesman Michael McGrath that 324 claims are ready for settlement which have been validated by the State Claims Agency.
The process for bringing these claims to the High Court for approval has commenced but a date has yet to be agreed, he said.
Over and above the 65% ICF, insurance compensation fund payment, it is expected that a proportion of the balance of money due to third-party claimants will be met from the proceeds of the distribution of Setanta’s assets on completion of the liquidation process.
“However, it is not possible to say definitively at this stage what proportion of the claims this will amount to. Current indications are that this is unlikely to be sufficient to cover the entire 35% gap, however,” he said.
In response, Mr McGrath said the system has failed the people in question.
“Of course, the company itself failed the people and has principle responsibility,” he said. “The system of regulation and also the State failed them. Those involved have had their lives put on hold due to accidents, some of which happened well before the liquidation of Setanta in 2014.
“Some involve serious injuries and the minister of state knows of one particular case in which fatalities were involved. There are court awards of which not one cent has yet been paid. This is fundamentally unfair.”
Mr McGrath called on the minister to sit down with the insurance industry to agree a way of ensuring the claimants involved will get 100% of their claims.
In response, Mr Darcy said: “The State simply cannot intervene at this stage. We will review it and see what the shortfall will be. However, we do not know what it is and we cannot commit to an open-ended shortfall at this moment.”
“I will give a commitment that I will work with everybody to achieve the best possible result.”