Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda Síochána compensation claims that are currently under assessment within her Department; the year in which each of these was received; the current stage of assessment of each; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40799/15]
112. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason so many Garda Síochána compensation claims due to medical reasons or otherwise, some of which have been with her Department for at least two years, have not progressed through the application process in a timely manner; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40800/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 111 and 112 together.
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, having regard to the circumstances of the case and the legislation. This assessment is discharged by designated officials of my Department and is informed by medical reports and previous Court judgments in Garda Compensation Act cases.
Before a decision to approve can be taken and the matter progressed to the High Court, certain conditions must be met. The injury being claimed for must not be minor in nature, and confirmation must be received from the Garda Commissioner that the incident occurred on duty and that it was not caused as the result of wilful default or negligence on the member's part. A full report from the Garda Chief Medical Officer is also sought, in addition to information from the applicant's legal representatives, sometimes including independent medical assessments. Inevitably this can be a long process even in relatively simple cases. Unfortunately in some cases this has added to the amount of time spent processing applications before a decision to refuse or approve is made. This matter is being addressed and the intention would be to reduce the processing time back down to normal levels over the coming months.
As of end October 2015, the number of applications being assessed in my Department, that is those applications for which the necessary information has been received from the Garda authorities to allow a decision to approve or refuse to be made, was 317. Information is awaited from the Garda authorities in another 550 or so cases. As my Department is dependent on receiving reports from the Garda authorities, including the Garda Chief Medical Officer, before a decision to approve or refuse can be made, the years in which these applications were received varies greatly. Computerised records are not maintained in a manner that facilitates a breakdown by the year in which each application was received and such information could only be obtained by the expenditure of a disproportionate amount of staff time and resources.