FG publishes Bill that would protect good Samaritans

 

FINE GAEL has published a Good Samaritan Bill which would protect those who go to the assistance of an ill or injured person from being sued as a result of their intervention.

The Bill is being promoted by Fine Gael’s foreign affairs spokesman Billy Timmins and justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan.

They said people should be encouraged to take on the role of a good Samaritan but they must be protected from being sued in the event of something going wrong.

“While all of us would feel a keen obligation to give assistance to an ill or injured person, there exists the potential for legal action against those who act in a compassionate way and with the best motives,” they said.

“Fine Gael wants to encourage the public to feel that they can take on the role of the good Samaritan and act as good citizens, without fearing that they will be summonsed to court if something goes wrong.”

Fine Gael published a similar Bill in December 2005 but it was rejected by the Government. The then minister for justice Michael McDowell said the Bill had been presented on the basis that he should accept it in the spirit of Santa Claus and that he would be hard-hearted if he rejected it.

“It would create many more problems than it would solve,” he said at the time.

Fine Gael said the Law Reform Commission had since made a similar recommendation for a Bill and this gave the proposal a renewed impetus.

In May, the Law Reform Commission recommended that a Good Samaritans and Volunteers Bill should be introduced to protect people who intervene to help an injured person.

The commission found it was unlikely that liability would arise in most situations.

The roll-out of defibrillators in public places to prevent cardiac death is one of the reasons that the matter has come to the fore again. The defibrillators are designed to be used by any citizen to help someone who is having a heart attack but the fear of doing the wrong thing may cause people to be reluctant to get involved.

Asked if there were plans to bring forward good Samaritan legislation, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said the recommendations made by the Law Reform Commission were being examined by the department.