I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes, for being here to discuss again this issue of insurance companies' non-engagement with areas of the country, particularly in the city and my constituency, where householders have undergone much hassle, discomfort and, in some circumstances, displacement because of the irregularity of weather patterns over the past number of years. There have been quite a number of severe weather events over the past and this has caused considerable distress to areas across the city. What has caused even more distress, as the Minister of State will be aware, as he has been quite to the forefront in this discussion with me previously, is the non-engagement of insurance companies with these individuals.
What we have done in Dublin City Council, based on the Scottish model, is establish a flood forum. The flood forum goes to local areas, deals with the particulars of the areas on an individual basis, gives advice - more than any financial support - to individual householders and talks about what could be done, what could be changed and what could be applied for. We learned yesterday at a Dublin City Council meeting, however, that when the flood forum was trying to engage with the insurance companies, it was being stonewalled. The insurance companies have no interest in engaging with them. As a result, individuals, through no fault of their own are, due to extreme circumstances, house location etc., losing their house insurance. If one has no house insurance, one cannot sell one's house and it is worthless because no prospective buyer can get a mortgage without house insurance. What we have here is a small number of individuals who are living in worthless homes because of the inability of the local authority or whoever to engage with the insurance companies who are not taking this issue seriously.
It is crucially important for this small number of individuals that this be resolved. It is also crucially important, as the Minister of State will be aware, for areas like Maryfield Crescent in respect of which the local authority, through every strategic policy committee and every area committee, has accepted that €50,000 should be spent on hydraulic analysis yet city councillors are not willing to spend the money to find out the problem in order that we can rectify it, go forward and not have this issue hanging over our heads in the long term.
However, the main issue is that when we establish the flood forum, we ask residents to engage with it - residents can be justifiably untrusting of any new forum that is set up if they think it is a committee or talking shop that will not have any real effect. If the forum engages with residents on the issues concerned, a level of expectation is raised and the residents think that perhaps some solutions can be found to put this issue behind them, and then the flood forum goes off and tries to engage with an insurance company and does not get anywhere. We ask citizens to engage with the process, to believe in their local authority, to understand that the OPW has a certain responsibility here as well, to talk about the issues concerned and to trust in the agents of the State so that they can finally find a long-term solution, but when that flood forum, which is an agent of Dublin City Council, goes to talks to an insurance company, there is non-engagement. As a result, there is the problem of individuals with homes that are effectively worthless.
I would be interested in getting an update on the Minister of State's interaction with the insurance companies and the insurance federation. It is only reasonable that a request would be made, through the flood forum. Dublin City Council or any local authority should be able to provide proof to the insurance company of works undertaken. That should be enough for the insurance companies. The householder should be able to get on with his or her life, and not have the matter constantly hanging over his or her head. It is so serious that every time there is a black cloud residents get nervous, start worrying and think there will be a major weather event that will impact seriously on their lives again. They cannot move on; they are stuck. I ask the Minister of State to update the House and myself on his engagement with the insurance federation and individual insurance companies.