Dáil Éireann - Volume 377 - 02 February, 1988

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Kowloon Bridge Casualty.

11. Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for the Marine the amount which has been paid in compensation by the insurers of the Kowloon Bridge to date; the steps, if any, being taken to ensure that the balance is recovered; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Mr. P. Gallagher: I would refer the Deputy to the Minister's reply to a similar question on 20 October 1987 regarding this matter. While no compensation has been received to date, my Department have been in contact with the insurers regarding the claim. As already indicated in the reply to which I have referred, [666] court proceedings will be initiated in the event that compensation is not received within a reasonable time.

Mr. Sherlock: Will the Minister agree that in this State where over one million people are living below the breadline the Government should be pursuing more vigorously the matter of the £1.7 million which is outstanding to them by the insurers? Will the Minister also agree that Cork County Council who were involved in expenditure of almost £1 million and have received only £750,000 should be reimbursed and that this state of affairs should not continue in a State where the Government are talking about everybody cutting back on expenditure?

Mr. P. Gallagher: I think the Deputy will appreciate that in the most minor of insurance claims it takes a considerable length of time to get the money and in this case it has also taken some time. We submitted a claim to the insurers on 19 October. We wanted to be absolutely certain that everything was in order before we submitted the claim. We have sent back-up data for the claim to the insurers recently. Certainly we are most anxious to receive the £1.734 million which is our claim and we will be pursuing the matter as vigorously as possible. Hundreds of documents accompanied this claim and no doubt it will be some time before it is processed. We have referred to the question of interest in this case. To answer the Deputy's question, we will be pursuing the matter vigorously.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Has the Minister included in the claim any sum to cover the loss and damage to west Cork, in particular to the tourist trade because of the adverse publicity and also the fishing interests in west Cork? Is there any item in the claim to cover compensation to west Cork for that loss?

Mr. P. Gallagher: It will be a matter for the fishermen to submit claims for any loss that has accrued to them. As I have said in the House in the past, any assistance we can give by way of data we will [667] be only too pleased to do so but the claim which we have submitted would not cover individuals.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Will the Minister not accept that in the west Cork area, because of the adverse publicity at the time, compounded to a degree by silly statements issued by a number of people, there was a general loss particularly in the tourism area? Any individual tourist interest would not be able to claim for loss but the whole area suffered as a result of cancellations. Will the Minister not agree that, as I suggested when in Government, there should be included in the claim a sum of money to redress that loss for the general promotion of west Cork, consequent on that adverse publicity?

Mr. P. Gallagher: We have worked very closely with the Attorney General's office on the claim of £1.749 million submitted. I believe that is the maximum claim including that of Cork County Council referred to in the mopping up operation but I cannot give the Deputy any assurance——

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: I suggest that £100,000 would be a reasonable figure for the promotion of west Cork to redress the adverse image it has received consequent on the Kowloon Bridge disaster. That was the proposal I made at the time we were in Government. Would the Minister now consider that proposal in the final round up of negotiations and discussions?

Mr. P. Gallagher: While I would not want to give the Deputy any assurance, I will certainly discuss this matter with officials of my Department and the Attorney General's office.

An Ceann Comhairle: We come now to deal with questions nominated for priority. Question No. 19.