Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Hit and Run Accidents.

Wednesday, 16 June 1982

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 336 No. 2

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4.

Mr. Taylor: Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn Taylor  asked the Minister for the Environment if he will seek a renegotiation of the agreement with the Motor Insurers' Bureau to secure compensation for victims of “hit and run” accidents as of right in cases where the motorist concerned remains untraced.

Mr. Connolly: Information on Gerard C. Connolly  Zoom on Gerard C. Connolly  I understand that the EEC Commission is considering the issue of civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles. At this stage I have no proposals for the renegotiation of the agreement with the Motor Insurers' Bureau.

Mr. Taylor: Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn Taylor  Would the Minister of State not agree that it is now approximately 20 years since that agreement was negotiated and that it is high time the matter was taken up afresh with the Motor Insurers' Bureau to ensure that compensation can be obtained for the numerous victims of hit and run accidents in the State?

Mr. Connolly: Information on Gerard C. Connolly  Zoom on Gerard C. Connolly  It came up at a working party in Brussels in April. I am waiting to see what the outcome of the negotiations will be. When I know what they are I will look into the matters the Deputy has raised and I will discuss the matter with the Motor Insurance Bureau.

Mr. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  (Dún Laoghaire): In view of the increasing number of victims seeking compensation from the Motor Insurance Bureau, would the Minister of State not agree that it is time that a new system [306] was introduced with regard to motor insurance, because all we are doing here is putting an onus on this body because people cannot afford to take out the cover which the State obliges them to have? Would the Minister of State not agree it is about time that his Government examined the whole system of motor insurance with a view to seeing that each individual is insured as distinct from the motor vehicle? If that happened there would not be any need for the Motor Insurance Bureau. Would the Minister of State not agree that each individual should carry his own third party liability cover and that the vehicle should not be what is covered?

Mr. Connolly: Information on Gerard C. Connolly  Zoom on Gerard C. Connolly  The Deputy is asking a wide-ranging question. If I get the result of the Council Directive on it I will take that into consideration also. I would like to be able to do the two things at the one time. I am very sympathetically disposed to what the Deputy suggests.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  Would the Minister of State ensure that the attention of the working party he referred to is drawn to the need to make some definite precise arrangements to ensure that, where a person is injured and that person is unaware of either the name and address of the owner or the driver of the car involved, that person as of right can bring a claim? Will the Minister of State ensure that that person is left with some compensation for the injuries he has received?

Mr. Connolly: Information on Gerard C. Connolly  Zoom on Gerard C. Connolly  It is before them at the moment.

Mr. Spring: Information on Dick Spring  Zoom on Dick Spring  Could the Minister of State inform the House if the compensation for victims of hit and run accidents is within the terms of reference of the working party?

Mr. Connolly: Information on Gerard C. Connolly  Zoom on Gerard C. Connolly  Yes, it is open to them to discuss any matter in that area.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  In view of the very large number of people who are owners of motor vehicles and whose cars are written [307] off in accidents would the Minister of State make some arrangement to have discussions with the Motor Insurance Bureau and with the working party to ensure that where a person incurs the loss of a vehicle he also is compensated?

Mr. Connolly: Information on Gerard C. Connolly  Zoom on Gerard C. Connolly  Under the terms of the scheme now that does not operate in regard to the loss of a vehicle, but all that is being looked at. I do not want to preempt the outcome of that.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  Is compensation for loss of the vehicle being discussed?

Mr. Connolly: Information on Gerard C. Connolly  Zoom on Gerard C. Connolly  All that is under consideration.

Mr. Taylor: Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn Taylor  Would the Minister of State not agree that, by reason of the appalling increase in serious injuries caused to people in hit and run accidents and the urgency of the matter, it would be entirely inadvisable to wait for the result from Brussels, because that might take years? Would he not now renegotiate the agreement with the insurers' bureau as we have been trying for more than 20 years to try to get them to agree that compensation would be paid to people receiving serious injuries as a result of hit and run accidents?

Mr. Connolly: Information on Gerard C. Connolly  Zoom on Gerard C. Connolly  I do not accept it will be years before agreement is reached. It might only be a matter of months, I am not able to say, but I will keep the matter under consideration.

Mr. Taylor: Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn Taylor  Would the Minister not agree to negotiate with them now.

Mr. Connolly: Information on Gerard C. Connolly  Zoom on Gerard C. Connolly  I will keep the matter under consideration.


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