Community facilities, businesses, crèches, leisure centres, hotels, pubs, marts, you name it, are all under extraordinary pressure because of the rising costs of insurance. Many of us in this House have met a range of groups across the country that feel their enterprises are endangered by the dramatically escalating insurance costs and premiums. Many businesses are under significant threat. There are quite a number of fraudulent cases, which are a significant factor in the rising costs of insurance and in the culture of claiming at any cost.
The Irish Independent, in a recent undercover investigation, has also reported that some GPs and solicitors are contributing to this culture of fraudulent and exaggerated claims by amending and holding back vital information in terms of medical reports and some sort of interaction between elements within both professions. In that context, it is fair to say that the Government's response to date, going back over the past three years and the various commissions that have been established, has been one of considerable inertia, with delay after delay and a lack of urgency in grappling with the essentials of this crisis.
I welcome the intention of the Government to support Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh's Perjury and Related Offences Bill 2018, which has been supported by my colleague, Deputy Troy, and the Fianna Fáil Party from the outset. We will help to fast-track this through the Dáil. I also point out to the Taoiseach that as far back as October 2018, former Deputy, Billy Kelleher, tabled legislation, the Civil Liability and Courts (Amendment) Bill, which would have mandated the courts to refer claims and actions which they dismissed as fraudulent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP, so that fraudsters would face the full rigours of the law. We have been waiting and waiting for a response from the Minister for Justice and Equality about that legislation. The Minister is nodding. I have letters about it. Eight months ago, he indicated that he would deal with this within a month and it has not been dealt with. Deputy Michael McGrath also introduced legislation that would again have increased penalties for those making fraudulent claims. It would have added to the strength of our deterrence to people who would take such claims, especially since they would be obliged to pay the legal costs of a fraudulent claim. At the moment, the holder of the insurance policy or the establishment or the enterprise has to bear the full brunt of the legal costs in many of these cases. Deputy Michael McGrath's Bill is still on Committee Stage. I welcome the fast-tracking of Senator Ó Céidigh's Bill but, equally, I put it to the Taoiseach that former Deputy, Billy Kelleher's, Bill should have been fast-tracked a long time ago, as should Deputy McGrath's.
It is more than 12 months since the completion of the final report of the Personal Injuries Commission. Incredibly, it showed that the level of damages for soft tissue injuries in Ireland is four and a half times higher than that of our nearest neighbours in England and Wales. Will the Government commit to fast-tracking former Deputy, Billy Kelleher's, legislation and Deputy Michael McGrath's legislation, which would have an impact on those making fraudulent insurance claims? When will the Government establish a publicly-funded anti-fraud unit in An Garda Síochána?