Are car insurance companies the new breed of dictator?
Published 25/07/2015 | 02:30
Only a few months ago, Irish car insurance companies, apparently by mutual agreement and almost overnight, doubled and in some cases trebled premiums for motorists. They did this in spite of the fact that the insurance regulatory body asked them to provide reasons for their increases at a time when the number of claims and level of amounts paid were decreasing. They never provided justification for their exorbitant hike in premiums and blatantly got their way.
Now we have just heard that two biggies, Aviva and Allianz, will not insure cars older than 15 years because they say they are more likely to be involved in collisions. The restriction would affect around 250,000 car owners, despite the fact that the majority of them cannot afford to spend much on a car and may be driving well-maintained and mechanically-sound vehicles.
Most likely these insurers will again get their way, which poses the question about the impotence of regulatory bodies that are not exercising their statutory powers to protect consumers.
Concetto La Malfa
Summer school blues I
If there was an Olympic competition for windbags, Ireland would be challenging for gold every time. We are now in the merry-go-round season of summer schools from Yeats, Parnell, MacGill, Merriman, Goldsmith and others.
What is their purpose, apart from an elitist cadre on an academic rant, a bit like the Seanad on steroids, or a type of Glastonbury Festival for tautology?
This poor island of ours is in danger of being analysed to death. The lectures delivered at the summer schools are, in my view, rambling discourses on themes that have been flogged to death for decades.
Summer schools had their origins as a forum for returned emigrants. One leading academic, John A Murphy, described them as being "An irresistible combination of intellectual endeavour and mild debauchery".
Whatever their purpose, the vast majority of society find them as useful as an ash tray on a motorbike. I don't know why they are reported on; there is far more interesting news in the world. Does anyone remember what was discussed at the summer schools three years ago?
I thought not - just hot air dissipated into an atmosphere that is already bloated.
Perhaps if in the future there is an Olympic competition for windbags, the summer schools will have been an excellent training ground for the Irish team.
Summer school blues II
I attended the Ireland's Energy Crisis session of the MacGill Summer School in Glenties on Wednesday evening, and was delighted to hear a general consensus that further onshore wind farming in Ireland was akin to madness.
However, it puzzled me that during two hours, approximately, of talk, discussion and debate, the name "Donegal" was never uttered. Donegal has among the highest numbers of turbines in Ireland. Glenties was the location of the first hearing into a wind-farm planning application, and its residents have first-hand knowledge of the potential harm that wind-farm planning applications can do to a community.
Issues such as damage/destruction to community, natural environment and economy were not touched on by the panel in their plans to deal with the energy crisis. A lot of figures were bandied about, self-congratulatory statements were made, but how the projects would impact on small communities and their environments was not discussed.
It is glaringly obvious that serious, all-encompassing discussion is needed on energy needs/uses, but it is also glaringly obvious that this type of discussion is needed regarding onshore wind-farming, as not all developers, authorities, nor indeed governments, will listen until forced to.
Glenties, Co Donegal
Minimum wage madness
If our ludicrous FF/FG governmental system does not change radically in the very near future, we shall be following Greece down the drain. The latest absurd decision is to increase the minimum hourly rate so that the lower paid can live better.
The sane decision would have been to stop completely wasting so much of the billions they extort from decent hard-working taxpayers and use those savings to lower the cost of living.
My grandmother would understand that obvious fact. We are already virtually the most expensive country in Europe, and they continue to waste money and raise prices and create new taxes as though we were still in those fantasy boom years. Now they want to give further pain to struggling businesses. Any of those new parties promising to stop wasting money?
Tinahely, Co Wicklow
Overcoming a stammer
Having struggled with stammering all my life, I have found much fluency through speech therapy but consider myself a stammerer and always will.
Therefore, I was thrilled when my relative e-mailed your recent article "Overcoming a stammer" by Constantin Manole. During my youth in Ireland, there was very little, if anything, in the news about stammering or speech therapy. Ireland is no different from other countries in that 1pc of adults and 4pc of children stammer.
Your article immediately made me think of something my mother did for me when I was a teenager in 1976. She showed me an article about Phil Lynott, and how he was raised by his Irish grandparents in Dublin, making him likely the only black child in Dublin in the 1950s and 1960s, something which of course was not easy. Lynott said: "To me, I was normal. It was everyone else who was different."
My mother had the comforting wisdom to make me think that 99pc of the population had speech problems and the other 1pc who stammered were the only ones that spoke correctly. To this day I still carry that newspaper clipping about Phil Lynott with me in my purse as, almost 40 years later, it still inspires.
"I'm looking forward to the €100. Myself and the wife will have a party on that, but I won't be paying the charges." So said Senator Gerard Craughwell when opposing the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill in the Seanad on Tuesday. How childish and petty.
Would the grant money not be better spent for the water conservation purposes it was intended, such as installing a rainwater harvesting system and thus saving water that has been treated at considerable expense?