Irish Insurance Federation Speaks Out On Roads, Regulation

August 28, 2000

The booming Irish economy has given Ireland’s people huge benefits. The increase in productivity and investment has put lots of money in Irish pockets, and, as opportunities in Ireland become more attractive, its best and brightest are staying home for the first time in nearly 200 years.

A growing economy, however, puts a lot of strain on infrastructure, particularly in a country as undeveloped as Ireland. The Irish Insurance Federation recently called attention to two problem areas.

In a letter to the Finance Minister Federation president John O’Hanlon called for the creation of a single regulatory authority for the financial services sector, saying that the delay in implementing recommendations to that affect was “damaging to the interests of the financial services industry and its customers.” Current regulation depends on the central bank, and is largely out of date and incapable of dealing with the explosive growth the financial services sector – banking, insurance, and investment management – has experienced in the last 10 years.

The federation also released a survey condemning Irish driving habits, and the increasing death and accident toll on its picturesque, but exceedingly dangerous, highways. Ireland has the 3rd highest traffic fatality rate in the EU, just behind Greece and Portugal, the survey noted.

With the exception of the Dublin area, and the highways linking the Republic to the North, there are virtually no limited access highways, and the roads, such as they are, were mostly laid out along cart tracks in the 19th century. With the recent prosperity has come an explosion in the number of Mercedes, BMW’s and other large, fast cars on the roads: The enforcement of traffic laws has not caught up with the new reality.

The IIF survey pointed out that parking fines exceed fines for speeding, and that there is no mechanism to deduct penalty points from licenses for traffic violations. The Irish police, the Gardai, are seriously undermanned when it comes to traffic enforcement, and the resulting carnage on the roads has greatly increased claims payments and seen a rise of almost 30 percent in insurance premiums in the last 18 months.

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