Tuesday, 2 November 2021
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
While I appreciate the Minister of State's answer, we do not have weeks to sort out this issue. It needs to be sorted out immediately. A number of years ago there was a similar issue with access to rural Ireland, whereby landowners were extremely concerned about their liability when people were using their land for recreational purposes. There was a satisfactory solution for that, namely, liability was taken away from the landowner. We need something similar in this case. I suggest that the notion of a waiver by participants in activities is examined by the Government and if a person signs the waiver of any liability, that this would be taken on board by the insurance company to absolve them of any liability to a claim when an adult is participating in an activity. We should see if this idea can be advanced immediately, that is, if a participant signs a waiver, this would take away any potential liability that may be incurred.
Businesses are closing because of lack of insurance but now this hugely important industry for rural Ireland is under immediate threat. We must get a solution to this. I accept the Minister of State's point that we cannot force insurance companies to quote but we must build an environment immediately that will make it economically attractive for insurance companies to quote at a reasonable cost. We cannot just stand idly by and allow a cornerstone industry in rural Ireland to collapse for the lack of insurance cover. We will be failing in our responsibilities as legislators in the Dáil if we allow this to happen. We have a responsibility to these industries, whether it is water activities or other recreational activities and sports that are now failing to get insurance, or the equestrian centres that are a huge cornerstone industry in every county in the country and all across rural Ireland. A huge number of people are employed in this industry, be it in the livery for horses, breeding horses or training horses. This is a hugely important industry and we cannot abdicate our responsibility in this regard. We are legislators and we must ensure that insurance cover is available to all sectors to allow them to continue their businesses.