Saturday 24 August 2019

'Maria Bailey fiasco' highlights urgency for insurance compensation reforms - Dail hears

'People need to have some common sense' - Heather Humphreys

Maria Bailey TD pictured outside Leinster House. Photo: Tom Burke
Maria Bailey TD pictured outside Leinster House. Photo: Tom Burke
John Downing

John Downing

THE case involving Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey has again "put the spotlight" on the urgent need to tighten compensation laws, the Dáil has been told.

The debate also prompted Business Minister, Heather Humphreys, to denounce the current “compensation culture”  - and urge people to “take responsibility for themselves” and avoid injury claims. Ms Humphreys did not refer to her party colleague, Maria Bailey, by name.

The Democratic Socialist Party co-leader, Catherine Murphy, said insurance costs were a huge burden on small business and claims were being conceded because of fears about going to court.  She urged big changes to current compensation laws to help reduce costs and warned that despite promises, changes had been delayed too long.

“The Maria Bailey fiasco this week has once again put it back into the spotlight.  And, while I’m sure it’s hugely embarrassing for yourself and your party colleagues, there’s a much bigger picture at play here,” the Kildare North TD told the Dáil.

Replying for the Government, Business Minister Heather Humphreys said she was well aware of the problems associated with high insurance costs. The Minister said businesses felt they were being “punished” for the current compensation culture via fraudulent and exaggerated claims.

“My own view on this is very simple. People need to have some common sense and they need to be responsible for their own personal safety,” Ms Humphreys said.

“So, if you trip, or you fall, you have to ask yourself how it happened. And more often than not, the reason is because of your own carelessness. But people need to accept that and we need to change that culture because there’s a culture in this country which says: it’s everyone’s fault but your own,” the Minister added.

Ms Humphreys said this also applied to schoolyard incidents. She said during her own schooldays, if a child fell, they were “dusted down” and sent back to school next day.

Business Minister Heather Humphreys. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Business Minister Heather Humphreys. Photo: Steve Humphreys

“Now people look to see if there’s an opportunity here,” Ms Humphreys said.

Read More: Hotel in swing case planned to use CCTV to fight Bailey claim

Read More: Full transcript: TD Maria Bailey's explosive radio interview over dropped swing fall case

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