Compensation to gardaí for injuries soars to €4.7m

Compensation paid to gardaí for injuries sustained while on duty soared last year by 23% to €4.69m.

In the last 10 years, €66.7m has been paid out under the Garda (Compensation) Act.

The highest individual sum paid last year to a garda was €205,249 with two other members receiving €175,827 and €112,098.

Confirmation of the payments came as a garda had her arm bitten in a public order incident on Saturday night in the western region. She had to be hospitalised and is on sick leave.

The assailant managed to bite through the garda’s standard issue fleece, and also punched her repeatedly.

Garda Representative Association spokesman John O’Keeffe said: “While the attack may seem shocking to the general public, it is just one of countless assaults that frontline gardaí deal with 24/7 in urban and rural divisions. Indeed, this injury is actually at the lower end of assaults on gardaí who are routinely at the receiving end of everything from attacks with implements, to attempted eye gouging, to being rendered unconscious — to name but three.

“Unless, and until, government and Garda management resource and equip our frontline gardaí sufficiently according to best international practices, we can expect further savage attacks on these men and women whose job it is to protect the general public from such barbaric behaviours.”

The overall payments last year of €4.69m to 74 claimants follow payments of €3.6m to 63 claimants in 2015. The Department of Justice said it did not have statistical details regarding injuries: “To extract this information from each individual file would require a disproportionate use of resources.”

Mr O’Keeffe pointed out that more than 5,500 gardaí have been injured on duty since 2005 and a 50% increase occurred between 2012 and 16. He said: “Bites, grazes, and bruising are the most common injuries suffered by gardaí, and then sprains, strains, closed fractures, and open wounds.

“Of even greater concern to the GRA is the figures are vastly underreported and so misleading. There is simply no comparable occupation where employees are likely to suffer such a debilitating range of injuries and subsequent illnesses.

“The solutions are many and varied but, briefly, frontline members need an occupational health scheme, ‘body cams’ or worn body videos and each garda needs to be armed with a taser gun.

“On nine out of 10 occasions, the mere instruction a taser will be used, will gain immediate offender compliance. Fourthly, gardaí need updated protection vests. The current ones are over a decade old, ill-fitting, and provide little or no resistance to sustained ballistic attack.”


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