The State will have to pay the bulk of a €5m compensation payout following claims from 100 prison officers and prisoners infected by tuberculosis in a major outbreak at a prison. The State Claims Agency has revealed the payout in a letter to politicians it asked to keep hidden from the public as it is “commercially sensitive”.
In a letter to the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee, seen by the Irish Examiner, agency director Ciaran Breen said there has been a significant cost to the taxpayer due to a major TB outbreak at Cloverhill prison at the start of the decade. Mr Breen said 99 prison officers, prisoners and ex-prisoners have been infected, with the State and insurers facing a €5m compensation bill to people hospitalised.
“As of May 8, 99 claims have been received from current and former prisoners and prison officers alleging testing positive for and/ or contracting TB arising from the Cloverhill prison outbreak,” the letter read.
Of these, 71 claims have been settled or discontinued while 28 are ongoing.
"To date, a total of €2.3m has been paid in settlements and costs in respect of all these claims, while there is a further estimated outstanding liability of €2.7m.
“The State Claims Agency has reached an apportionment agreement with a medical defence organisation under which that organisation has agreed to contribute 60% of the plaintiffs’ settlements and costs in the majority of cases.
“The figures set out above are, as you will appreciate, commercially sensitive and I would request that the committee does not publish the information,” Mr Breen wrote, adding that no confidentiality deals exist with those affected.
The Cloverhill outbreak has been a source of concern since it first emerged. TB, a potentially fatal lung disease, has been largely eradicated in Ireland, with cases dropping from 7,000 a year in the 1950s to the low 300s today. However, the Cloverhill outbreak gave rise to prison safety and health concerns.