[Sinn Fein]

14 March 2002

MacManus Demands Insurance Fair Play For Young Drivers

Sinn Fein general election candidate Councillor Seán MacManus has called on the government to take action on the spiralling cost of insurance, particularly for young drivers.

Cllr. MacManus said, "Drivers, and young people in particular, are being fleeced by the insurance industry. Last year the National Youth Council of Ireland published a report aptly titled The Plunder Years, which showed the blatant profiteering that discriminates against young people.

"For example, the NYCI found that a 24-year-old male driver with a full licence for two years and a no claims bonus was quoted 2,213 to insure a 1998 Fiat Punto. My office recently received a representation from a 20-year-old who had been looking for a quote and the cheapest offer he can get is over ¤4000, twice the value of his car. Many young people are now forced to pay insurance in installments, thus incurring a further 18.6% interest.

"In rural Sligo public transport is minimal and there is massive dependence on the car. Young people in rural Sligo are doubly disadvantaged therefore, through lack of public transport and punitive car insurance.

"The reality is that young people are being forced off the roads. Only 6% of our young people drive, compared to 14% in the EU as a whole. This is a form of economic and social discrimination as well as acting as a brake on the economy. The lack of access to a vehicle can exclude candidates from jobs where driving is required, and can prevent people from taking jobs at locations not served by public transport.

"The government should intervene directly now. It is time they took on the ruthless profiteering of the insurance companies and acted on behalf of the young drivers of this country. As a Sinn Fein TD for Sligo/Leitrim I will be demanding that the general insurance market be subjected to a thorough investigation by the Competition Authority.''

MacManus concluded, ``I am calling on the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Harney to enable the Equality Authority in the matter of motor insurance to conduct a statutory inquiry into allegations of discriminatory practices based on age or gender, using its powers to require the production of documents and attendance of witnesses.''

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