Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow – Kilkenny Bobby Aylward has called for a major review of the manner in which compensation claims for serving and retired members of An Garda Síochána are processed.
Deputy Aylward made the comments after receiving confirmation from the Minister for Justice that there were 317 applications for Garda compensation under assessment in the Department of Justice as of the end of October 2015. Under the Compensation Acts 1941 and 1945, a member of An Garda Síochána 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.
“People are well aware of the important job that Gardai play in protecting our communities, but they will be shocked to learn how poorly they are treated when it comes to seeking compensation for injuries they have received while on duty. There are currently 317 Gardai waiting for compensation claims to be processed by the Department,” said Deputy Aylward.
“I have spoken to both serving and retired members of the force who have been waiting years for their compensation claims to be processed. One retired member has been waiting for more than ten years for a claim to be processed. It’s a damning indictment of the way the Government treats those it tasks with protecting us.
“The very least we can do for Gardai who are injured while on duty is to ensure their compensation claims are processed without delay, irrespective of the outcome of the claim. No one, especially older retired members who have been significantly injured in the line of duty, should be forced to wait years before their claim is reviewed and decided upon.
“I asked the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to spell out how many Gardai here in Kilkenny are waiting for their claims to be processed. Unfortunately she refused to provide that information to me. The Minister cited a lack of computerised records as a reason why she could not provide the figures. This again clearly highlights how the Gardai have been starved of vital resources. The lack of computerisation should not be an issue in this day and age.
“I’m calling on the Government to ensure Garda compensation claims are processed in a reasonable timeframe. Morale in the force has hit rock bottom in recent years, and issues such as this only serve to make that problem much worse,” said Deputy Aylward.