Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey has criticised the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland for delays in paying compensation to victims of road crashes.
The MIBI was set up by the Government and Irish motor insurance companies more than 50 years ago to compensate innocent victims of crashes caused by uninsured and unidentified vehicles.
But Minister Dempsey said it seems the bureau has lost sight of the victims and their families because over the years a number of cases have become embroiled in legal issues.
He said the MIBI needs to pay out in these cases without delay, some of which are between ten and 20-years-old, and two of which involve paraplegics.
He added that at the end of 2006, the MIBI held reserves of more than €377m.
The comments come following a ruling in the High Court last week that the MIBI must pay damages to a woman who was injured while sitting in the rear of a delivery van driven by an uninsured driver.
The MIBI had blocked compensation on the grounds that the woman was sitting on the floor of the vehicle, which was not deigned to seat passengers safely.
Minister Dempsey said this was a test case and there were currently 38 other similar cases before the courts.
He urged the bureau to pay out quickly in this case and the other cases so that the victims and families can get on with their lives.
The MIBI has said it is totally surprised by Mr Lenihan's criticisms and described the comments as premature.
MIBI Chief Executive John Casey said the bureau had taken this and other cases because Irish law had precluded them from paying out in these circumstances.
Mr Casey said the bureau was currently studying the judgment and considering how to go forward.
He said a stay that had been put on the recent High Court decision and it is due before the courts again on 14 February.
He added that he had not been contacted directly by the Department of Transport or Minister Lenihan about the issue.
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