Bill to Overhaul Garda Compensation Scheme Completes Passage Through Oireachtas
This Bill provides for a complete overhaul of the current Garda compensation scheme which has been in operation since the 1940s.
The Garda Compensation Scheme is for members of An Garda Síochána who sustain personal injuries in the performance of their duties, to help affected members get support necessary for their recovery and compensate them for their injuries. The scheme is also open to dependants of deceased members of An Garda Síochána who were fatally injured while on duty, or while acting in their general capacity as a member, or merely because of their being a member of An Garda Síochána.
The main objectives of the Bill is to reduce the length of time it takes for Garda compensation claims to be dealt with from the initial application right through to the award of compensation and to reduce legal costs.
It also offers opportunities for settlement and resolution of claims much earlier in the process with cost savings for all of the parties involved. The Bill achieves this by setting out clear time limits in relation to each stage of the process and providing what will happen where those timelines are not met. It also aims to reduce the number of applications ultimately proceeding to court, which will in turn reduce the significant legal and administrative costs and lengthy delays associated with the current scheme.
A significant change in the new scheme is that where an assessment concludes that a member has been injured as a result of a malicious incident, and is therefore entitled to compensation, the Garda Commissioner will arrange for an application to be made on the claimant’s behalf to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) who will assess the claim on an independent and impartial basis. After a claim has been made to PIAB, the State Claims Agency will represent the Garda Commissioner.
The Personal Injuries Assessment Board is the independent state body which assesses personal injury claims. It was established to support the prompt and fair resolution of claims without the need for costly and lengthy litigation.
Welcoming the passing of the Bill, Minister McEntee said, “we can all agree that members of An Garda Síochána do their utmost to tackle crime and to keep the public safe and I commend them on this. Unfortunately, the nature of this work means that members of the Garda can suffer injuries, or in the most tragic cases, injuries causing death, and they, or their family members in the case of death, deserve to be compensated in recognition of this.”
“Having met the Garda representative organisations on a number of occasions since becoming Minister for Justice, I know this is an important issue to members, and I am delighted to see the legislation passed so we can move towards establishing a revised scheme that will better serve those who need to avail of it.”
Minister Browne commented, “this much anticipated Bill to reform the Garda Compensation Scheme is important to not only those individuals on the frontline protecting and supporting our communities but also their family members who feel the direct effect of when their loved ones are harmed while on duty. It is only right that when incidences like these occur that members and their families are redressed in a fair and efficient manner to avoid any further burden on the injured parties.”
“I cannot express enough the deep respect that we all have towards members of An Garda Síochána who, despite the now dangers involved with tackling criminal activity, go out to face it first-hand. I am pleased to have brought this Bill through the Houses and look forward to the revised scheme assisting in providing Gardaí with compensatory supports in a way that will lessen delays and financial costs that the now outdated procedures sometimes had on members in the past.”
Ministers McEntee and Browne look forward to early commencement of the Bill and expressed their thanks to their colleagues in both houses of the Oireachtas for their assistance in ensuring its timely delivery.