Wednesday, 13 March 2019
Business Insurance: Motion [Private Members]
Shane Cassells (Meath West, Fianna Fail)
I thank the Minister of State, Deputy D'Arcy. I welcome all the businesses that are present and the members of the Alliance for Insurance Reform who are in the Public Gallery for the debate this afternoon. I pay tribute to Deputy Michael McGrath for all his work on this issue and for tabling the motion today. From his extensive work in the Department, the Minister of State, Deputy D'Arcy knows what a significant issue this is for so many businesses in this country, to the extent that the issue arises as to whether they can survive in business in the first place.
When I was a member of a local authority I recall that the most burdensome cost facing most businesses was commercial rates charged by councils, but they pale into insignificance compared to the crucifying cost of insurance, which is affecting existing businesses and is also having a negative effect on the spirit of entrepreneurship. When young entrepreneurs look at the potential costs they are totally disheartened. One such young entrepreneur from my home town of Navan is sitting in the Public Gallery, Linda Murray. She is here with the Alliance for Insurance Reform, including Peter Boland, Stephen Carthy from Clonmel and Stephanie Reid from Galway. Linda's business in Navan is a play centre called Huckleberry's Den. Her leisure activity centre, The Zone, won a national award this week. She has brought employment and value to the town. Her premium has gone from €2,500 when she opened six years ago to approximately €16,500 and now she cannot even get a quote because of the way insurance companies consider the market in this country. Some 20,000 children went through her centre without incident last year. Deputy Kelleher put it best when he spoke about the pace at which we are attempting to tackle this issue. Everyone accepts the Minister of State's genuinely positive attitude in tackling this issue and his acknowledgement of Deputy Michael McGrath's work, but the Government as a whole must advance the legislative issues highlighted this afternoon in the debate because the axe is falling on Linda's business and so many others because of the gouging that is going on in the insurance industry.