Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow – Kilkenny Bobby Aylward says the Department of Justice needs to step up its efforts to clear a backlog of outstanding Garda compensation claims.
Under current legislation, members of An Garda Síochána who are maliciously injured on duty can make an application for compensation. It is the responsibility of the Minister for Justice and Equality to approve or refuse such applications.
Deputy Aylward said, “Last year it came to light that there were significant delays in processing compensation claims made by members of the Gardaí. These Gardaí were injured in the line of duty. I raised the matter with the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and was told that efforts would be made to clear the backlog.
“I am encouraged to see that the number of outstanding compensation claims awaiting decision from the Department is down to 71, compared to 317 when I first raised the matter with the Minister last October. Upon receipt of answers to further Dáil Questions at that time, I learned that there were also a further 550 cases which required further documentation before the claims could be progressed by the Minister. That number has now been reduced to 61.
“Significant progress has been made to reduce the near 900 outstanding claims which sat in the Department last year, but the Government needs to ensure that this backlog is cleared completely.
“It is imperative that Gardaí who are injured while protecting our communities are given a fair hearing when submitting claims for compensation. We must protect those who protect us by processing these claims in an efficient manner. There is no excuse for a backlog to be present.
“Gardaí injured in the line of duty often have to cover their own medical expenses while they are awaiting the outcome of a compensation claim. It’s not acceptable that these Gardai are left out of pocket for months, or in some cases years, due to inefficiencies in processing compensation claims.
Deputy Aylward continued, “I understand that this scenario affects a number of Gardaí in Carlow-Kilkenny and those previously stationed in the area. I previously called on the Minister to release figures on the number of Gardaí in Carlow – Kilkenny affected by this backlog. Unfortunately the Minister refused to do so.
“While I welcome the progress that has been made to date in clearing this backlog, I will continue to pursue the issue with Minister Fitzgerald on behalf of those Gardaí affected in my constituency and across the country until this backlog is completely cleared.”