More than 20 Kilkenny business owners protest outside Supreme Court urging insurance reform
Up to 25 Kilkenny business owners held a historic protest today as they assembled outside the sitting of the Supreme Court in Kilkenny calling for the complete reform of the Irish insurance system.
All the businesses that came to protest outside the special sitting of the Supreme Court at Kilkenny Courthouse are directly affected by the Irish insurance crisis which has seen their premiums double year-on-year, which they say is “crucifying” their businesses.
The 25 business owners took the opportunity to protest so they could hand over a letter to one of the seven members of the Supreme Court, Justice Mary Irvine who was recently appointed chair of the Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee of the Judicial Council by Chief Justice Frank Clarke.
Justice Irvine was handed the role with the instruction to review the levels of compensation issued in court arising out of personal injuries.
“What we did today is historic,” said Glen Tector, owner of Sonic Entertainment and one of the campaigners protesting outside the courthouse.
“I don’t know any other group that has ever protested the Supreme Court like this in history. But we have no choice, this was a civil protest and they had to take our letter. We enacted our constitutional right.
“Something is seriously wrong with our insurance system. At present, the book of quantum is ridiculously out of reality for rewards in Ireland where they are higher than anywhere in the world. This has led to insurance companies flooding out of Ireland.
“For example, an average payout for whiplash in Ireland is €20,000, in the UK it’s €4,500 and in Spain it’s just €1,500.
“Businesses are being crucified.”
Glen was joined on the protest today by other Kilkenny companies working in the leisure industry such as hotels, pubs, bike tours, entertainment hire etc. He says anyone in this industry has basically had their insurance increased by 50% in the last year, and they have seen many compatriots exit the industries.
“There is no insurance available for new businesses that enter the market for the like of bike hires on greenways etc,” Glen explains.
“People now have to think ‘will I operate with insurance or without insurance?’ and that is a very dangerous way to run a business in Ireland.
“The duty of care laws in Ireland need to change. Anyone can walk into a premises fall over and sue, be they drunk, it doesn’t matter.
“We protested the Supreme Court to get the letter explaining the situation in Ireland to Justice Irvine. We had to wait until the Supreme Court went on the road to do it, because of their location in Dublin you cannot get to the Supreme Court Judges.
“We were told that the Chief Justice, Frank Clarke would come to meet us but that did not happen and the court clerk came and received our letter on their behalf.
“Insurance reform in Ireland is down to Justice Irvine and her committee of seven. Whatever way they recalibrate the Book of Quantum will dictate if insurance company return and if awards are levelled in Ireland. That is what our letter set out to remind her,” Glen concluded.