By Gordon Deegan
More than 2,880 gardaí maliciously injured during the course of duty have shared a compensation payouts of €111.7m to date since 2000.
That is according to new figures provided by the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan showing the annual payments under the Garda (Compensation) Acts between 2000 and 2017.
The compensation scheme in place for Gardaí show that it has provided a bonanza for lawyers with an additional €41.8m paid out in legal costs since 2000.
The figures provided in a written Dáil reply to Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins show that, last year, €5.8m in awards was paid out to 111 gardaí. This represented a 23% increase on the €4.7m paid out to 66 gardaí in 2016.
The figures over the 18-year period show that the largest pay-out was made in 2008 when €13.6m was shared out between 238 gardaí.
The payments compensate gardaí who are injured after being attacked while on duty and the dependents of members who have died from injuries maliciously inflicted on them.
Since 2000, 15 members of the force have lost their lives while on duty.
They include garda Tony Golden (pictured below) who was shot dead while on duty in October 2015 and Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe who was shot dead while on duty in January 2013.
Ten of the 15 gardaí lost their lives on the roads through accidental collisions or having their garda cars rammed by fleeing suspects.
In total, 2,889 awards have been made since January 2000 to the end of last year.
It can sometimes take a number of years for compensation claims to be finalised. Last year, the Gardaí received 181 fresh compensation claims; this followed 204 claims received in 2016.
In total between 2000 and 2017, 3,745 applications for compensation have been received.
Minister Flanagan has the responsibility to approve or refuse applications for compensation. The assessment of claims is carried out by Dept officials including the examination of medical reports and incident reports.
The claims go before the High Court in the final phase of the process and according to Minister Flanagan, there are currently 77 applications for compensation ready for processing.
In response to the figures, Garda Representative Association (GRA) spokesman, John O’Keeffe said it is no surprise to the GRA that both applications and compensation paid, rose year on year between 2016 and 2017.
Mr O’Keeffe said: “Frontline Gardaí work every day in incredibly dangerous circumstances where the risk of injury is extremely high compared to other professions and frontline services.
He said: “However, recent years have seen a rise in what might be termed "recreational" violence against frontline gardaí. Offenders have come to have little respect for either gardaí or a listless criminal justice system. This is compounded by the lack of safety equipment the frontline have at their disposal."
Mr O’Keeffe said: “Body armour is 12 years old and our members still have no tasers or body cameras to protect themselves - or the criminal justice system - against attack. A baton and pepper spray will not deter any violent criminal in Ireland today. Equip our frontline properly. Protect our men and women, and so curtail compensation claims from rising even further.”