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Bill to overhaul Garda Compensation Scheme completes passage through the Oireachtas

The main objectives of the Bill is to reduce the length of time it takes for compensation claims to be dealt with.

A BILL THAT provides for a complete overahaul of the current Garda compensation scheme has completed all stages in the Oireachtas. 

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has welcomed the progression of the Garda Síochána (Compensation) Bill 2021.

The Garda Compensation Scheme is for members of An Garda Síochána who sustain personal injuries during the performance of their duties. The scheme aims to help affected members get support necessary for their recovery and compensate them for their injuries. 

The scheme is also open to dependents of deceased members of An Garda Síochána who were fatally injured while on duty, while acting in their general capacity as a member, or because of their being a member of An Garda Síochána. 

A review committee had identified a number of weaknesses in the current scheme under the Garda Síochána (Compensation) Acts 1941 to 1945.

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 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.

“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,” Justice Minister Helen McEntee said. 

“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,” McEntee said. 

“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,” she added. 

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