Woman who lost case over playground swing injury plans to appeal

Speaking on RTÉ radio, Susan O'Mahoney said she would have to pay upwards of €20,000 legal costs over swing that was 'an accident waiting to happen'
Woman who lost case over playground swing injury plans to appeal

Ms O’Mahoney’s injury occurred on March 30, 2016, as she was exiting the swing, which she had got onto with a child whom she was then minding, aged two years and 10 months. File picture

A woman who lost a case over injuries sustained in a playground has said she plans on appealing the decision.

On Thursday, two women who claimed to have injured their ankles as they got out of a bird’s nest basket swing in a children’s playground in Tipperary, lost their actions.

Mr Justice Michael Twomey found there was no negligence or breach of duty by Tipperary County Council.

The accidents were caused by two adults deciding to use equipment not designed for adult use and “common sense” would tell any adult they should not use a swing designed for use by children, he said.

Speaking to Joe Duffy on RTÉ’s Liveline, Susan O’Mahoney, 54, said the swing needs to be lifted 1ft off the ground to prevent further injury.

Separate cases were brought by Ms O’Mahoney and Sarah Kennedy and both women sued over ankle injuries sustained, on different occasions, as they got out of a bird’s nest basket swing in a community playground in Newcastle, Co Tipperary, built after members of the local community raised funds for it.

Ms O’Mahoney’s injury occurred on March 30, 2016, as she was exiting the swing, which she had got onto with a child whom she was then minding, aged two years and 10 months.

Ms O’Mahoney said she knew there was a chance they were going to lose but she felt strongly about it.

'Excruciating' pain

Ms O’Mahoney explained she got on the swing “solely to mind the child”.

Explaining the incident, she said she went to get off the swing and she put down her leg to get off it.

She said that the rim of the swing was “quite heavy” and it connected with the back of her and knee and dragged her leg under it and she ended up breaking her ankle.

Ms O’Mahoney said the pain was “excruciating”.

After the incident, another woman approached her who said: “I saw what happened you, I think you’ve broken your ankle cause the same thing happened to me on that swing two years ago”.

Ms O’Mahoney said she was out of work for about two-and-a-half months as a result of the injury.

“I became concerned because people were saying to me that happened to me,” she said, and she said something had to be done.

Other avenues were tried, including contacting a councillor.

She said a solicitor she contacted said they could get an engineer to look at the swing and the engineer said the swing was one foot lower than it should have been.

“This swing is an accident waiting to happen,” Ms O’Mahoney recalled the engineer saying.

A safety report from Play Services Ireland had recommended the swing be raised by 300mm and this had been presented in court, but was not referenced by the judge, she said.

At all times she was “willing to engage” with the council, she said, and had only initiated the action as she wanted the swing to be made safer. It had been her barrister’s decision to take the case to the High Court, her goal had been “to have the swing sorted”.

Ms O’Mahoney added she wouldn’t have taken the case if she was the only person who had been injured.

She said she only did so as other people also alleged to have been injured on the swing.

Ms O’Mahoney was injured on the swing in 2016 and in 2020 the playground was closed down following an inspection that highlighted repairs were needed. She said she wanted to see the playground reopened, but that the swing should be made safe as it had the potential to injure a child.

“I feel we have done some good as it forced an inspection. I want children to be safe”.

Ms O’Mahoney said she had been told she had grounds for appeal and intended to do so.

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