Cllr Colm Murray (FG).
The lead insurer behind more than 30 local authorities in the country is to crack down on suspected fraudulent compensation claims made by an increasing number of “accident prone families” living in Longford, writes Liam Cosgrove.
Irish Public Bodies is the main underwriter of claims to Ireland’s public sector while also handling some of the largest risks in the complementary markets covering Ireland’s semi state and private sectors.
It was a body which came up for noteworthy discussion at a meeting of Longford County Council last week when local politicians debated the county’s second placed ranking in the number of Personal Injury Board claims recorded nationwide between 2012 and the first half of 2017.
Cllr Colm Murray sparked what turned out to be a frank and at times brusque debate when he called for a tougher hand to be taken against the level of questionable lawsuits county councils like Longford were continuing to encounter.
“A lot of the names are the same ones that are coming up time and again,” he maintained.
“Are there a lot of settlements happening out of court now because we see some of the same settlements that are being made which are absolutely ridiculous.
“How hard are we (Council) fighting this and how hard are IPB fighting this? I think it’s a horrendous culture and I know we happened to be second in the country over that particular time period but it’s through all walks of life that as a society we are becoming more litigious and I think we should we should be doing everything we can to fight it.”
His Fine Gael compatriot, Cllr Peggy Nolan went a step further by calling on the Council to release the names of respective claimants with the local authority’s meeting agenda at the start of every month.
“If the public want to see it then let them see who is claiming and who is claiming for what,” she raged,” in between calling for a letter to be sent to the IPB’s executive to urge the insurer to refrain from settling claims on “hearsay”.
Two more Fine Gael elected members, Cllrs Micheal Carrigy and Paraic Brady gave further weight to those pleas, shortly before Cllr Seamus Butler indicated that a “sea change” as afoot within the IPB’s top brass over an apparent spike in Ireland’s compensation culture.
Having sat at its recently held AGM, he revealed the firm had set up a dedicated department involving retired gardaí to assess claims taken by “a number of very unfortunate families in Longford prone to accidents” and others across the country.
Director of Services John McKeon confirmed Cllr Butler’s admission and insisted the preliminary results of those efforts were already starting to pay dividends with the Council now recording two to three claims on a monthly basis.