A man whose wife and daughter were killed in a road traffic collision has called for fees charged to bereaved families for Garda documents since January 1st to be reimbursed.
Road Safety Group Parc has echoed the call, adding they were shocked to be told a directive that would ensure the fees were waived in the case of fatal collisions had not been issued by Garda HQ despite an announcement last year that the fees would be halted.
In a press statement issued last August, the Garda announced that, after representations made to Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan, fees for documentation in relation to fatal and serious-injury road traffic collisions had been reviewed.
It said from January 1st, 2017 a waiver of fees would be introduced in the case of collisions involving fatalities, and, in cases of collisions resulting in a serious injury, fees would be capped at €1,000.
Could not believe it
Noel Clancy, of Kilworth, Co Cork, whose wife Geraldine and daughter Louise were killed in a crash in November 2015, said he could not believe it when he received a bill of €1,940 for copies of Garda documents following his loved-ones' inquest.
“I was stunned, I was absolutely stunned,” he said.
He said he had been told by a member of the Traffic Corps there would be no fees because of a change to regulations.
He contacted the member again after he received the bill and was initially told it was a mistake. But he was then told no directive cancelling the fees was ever received by Fermoy, the district dealing with his case.
“It was on the Garda website, but no directive was ever sent out to Garda stations around the country to implement it,” he said.
“I can’t understand it … it was quite clearly stated on the Garda website that this was decided in the case of bereaved families, that there would be no charge for the files.”
He said it “beggared belief that this wouldn’t have been followed up on”, but he did not blame local gardaí.
‘Hands are tied’
“They had no official communication and their hands are tied,” he said. “They must get an official directive or they can do nothing.”
He said there were bound to be other families who had been charged since January 1st and who had paid the fees.
“I don’t want this to be a case that I am exempted because Parc pushed it,” he said.
“This was to be given to all bereaved families - and it should be.”
Tommy Broughan TD, who had lobbied for the waiver along with Parc, said he was taken aback that although the decision was made in August to have the waiver, that wasn't communicated to gardaí in the various divisions.
“It’s just an astonishing anomaly,” he said.
Susan Gray, founder of Parc, said she heard the Garda Commissioner saying victims were at the heart of An Garda Síochána and were going to come first.
“Is this her idea of putting them first, is this her idea of treating them fairly and with compassion?” she asked.
Contact Parc for help
She called for any families of road traffic collision victims who have paid for documents since January 1st to be reimbursed. She also said they could contact Parc for help seeking reimbursement.
A Garda spokesman said the waiver applied to all applications for documents related to fatal road traffic collisions received after January 1st, 2017, and not just to collisions that happened after that date.
“A directive in respect of the new fee structure has been finalised and will be issued to all stations, in early course,” he said.
“The fee as mentioned has been waived.”