In March, the Department of Finance made headlines when it announced “steady progress” was being made in implementing a range recommendations for tackling the country’s endemic compo culture and reducing soaring insurance costs, not only for businesses but for organisations responsible for festivals and community events, many of which have been postponed or cancelled because the price of insurance cover is beyond their necessarily modest budgets.
Four months on, Isme — the association representing small- and medium-size companies — is the latest trade body to wonder if the ministry’s understanding of the word “progress” is different to that which exists beyond its walls.
No punch is left unpulled in a letter it has sent to the minister of state with special responsibility for insurance and financial services, Michael D’Arcy, under whose watch, Isme complains, real progress on introducing hazards for false and exaggerated claims and cutting the spiraling number of whiplash injury claims has been “negligible”.
Premiums, the minister is told — as if he didn’t already know — continue to rise, and dubious and blatantly dishonest claims are still being made. Its indictment goes on to express warranted astonishment at the Government’s decision to refer the problem of extortionate insurance costs to the Law Reform Commission (LRC), which it describes as prescription for doing nothing and a flagrant abdication of its executive duties.
The LRC has not been asked to look anew at the defamation laws that make Dublin the world’s libel case capital.
Mr D’Arcy will, we are sure, take special note of a warning from Isme: Many of the thousands of job-sustaining businesses, community groups, charities and sports groups affected by insurance premiums and claim costs are Fine Gael supporters or currently members.
The minister will not need a dictionary to discover the meaning of “currently”.