Army deafness costs £10m plus


Almost £4 million was paid out by the Department of Justice last year in personal injury cases and actions involving official Garda vehicles. The compensation and legal costs last year totalled £3,898,449 - a figure that has increased steadily since 1990 when civil action payments amounted to just over £1.1 million.

Legal costs for claims under the Garda Compensation Act totalled £163,000 last year and costs for claims in prisons amounted to £277,123 in the same year, the Minister said in a written reply to the Fine Gael justice spokesman, Mr Jim Higgins.

Mr Higgins had asked all Government Departments in written questions about their legal costs in dealing with personal injury claims from 1990 to 1997. The highest payments last year were in the Department of Defence, where more than £10 million was paid out for Army deafness compensation claims.

The Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, paid out £122,924 in legal fees, compared to £40,130 in 1996. Legal fees of £53,646 were paid out by the Department of Marine in 1997, an increase of more than 400 per cent on fees for the previous year, when costs amounted to £11,418.58.

The Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs had a bill of £14,258 for legal costs related to personal injury claims, a drop of almost £10,000 on fees for 1996.

There was just one personal injury claim in the Department of the Taoiseach between 1990 and last year. It was in 1993 and the total amount paid out was £6,250, of which £5,500 was paid to the claimant and £750 went in legal fees. Costs of £3,682 were paid in 1991 for a claim which was made in 1986.

In the Department of Education, fees of £20,864 were paid out in legal costs arising from personal injury claims, while the Department of Public Enterprise paid out £5,006 in legal fees.

Legal costs in the Department of Health amounted to £14,227 for one claim while costs last year were £2,784, again for one claim.

The Department of the Environment had no legal costs from 1994 to 1997 and in 1993 paid out £7,558 in legal fees. The Department of Foreign Affairs paid out legal fees of £12,799 last year compared with £17,000 in 1996 for personal injury claims.