Garda Compensation Scheme payments totalled €5.7m in 2018

Garda Compensation Scheme payments totalled €5.7m in 2018

The State  made two separate payouts in excess of €1m through the Garda Compensation Scheme last year as overall payments topped €5.7m.

The payments take account of past and present loss of earnings and a number of other considerations.

In total, 114 payments were made with only two other awards over €200,000 at €250,000 and €195,000. There were three other awards between €100,000 and €200,000.

The remainder of the awards are less than €100,000 that include five awards €5,000 or less. The €5.7m paid out to 114 claimants last year compare to €5.7m paid out to 98 claimants in 2017.

During the year, the High Court judge who approves payments, Mr Justice Michael Twomey criticised the compensation system for Gardai saying a €5,000 award could cost the taxpayer up to €20,000 due to legal costs.

Mr Justice Twomey queried why such cases were assessed in the High Court rather than in lower courts.

In addition to the awards payout, a spokesman at the Dept of Justice confirmed that legal costs of €1.8m in relation to the compensation scheme were paid out last year.

Since 2000, a total of €117.4m has been paid out in compensation to Gardai and their families. An additional €43.6m has been paid out in legal fees.

Since 2000, 15 members of the force have lost their lives while on duty and ten of the 15 Gardai lost their lives on the roads through accidental collisions or having their Garda cars rammed by fleeing suspects.

A spokesman for the Garda Representative Association (GRA) said that the GRA is not happy with the operation of the scheme currently.

He said: “There is a lengthy delay from application to actual payment.”

He said that revised legislation currently being drafted, the Garda Siochana (Malicious Injuries) Bill would streamline and expedite matters.

In a Dáil reply on the issue this week, the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan stated that the new arrangements under the Bill “will result in a more efficient and cost-effective system”.

He said that the major reform at the heart of the proposals is a move away from the current arrangements where cases go before the High Court for quantum to one where quantum is assessed by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) and cases are handled to conclusion by the State Claims Agency (SCA).

He stated: “Allowing for other competing demands, I would hope that it will be possible to publish the Bill during 2019.”

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