The State spent almost €6.3m last year to settle legal actions taken against gardaí — the most in almost a decade, writes Noel Baker.
Statistics from the Department of Justice show that while just €33,500 was paid out in three court awards, another €3.9m was paid to settle 43 other actions. The number of cases settled was the highest since 2010.
Another €2.3m was paid to 103 individuals in legal costs, bringing the total to €6,290,000 last year — the highest annual total since over €7m was paid in 2008.
The figures show almost €60m has been paid out in court and other settlements and legal fees in the past decade regarding legal actions brought against gardaí. The greatest expenditure in the period was on legal costs, with well over €30m paid out.
The department monitors cases taken against gardaí relating to claims which give rise to constitutional issues and claims concerning the actions of members of the force in the performance of their duties, such as wrongful arrest or unlawful search of premises.
Other claims such as those involving non-malicious injuries to garda members, injuries to civilians on garda premises, legal actions taken by gardaí, legal actions arising from acts of omissions by An Garda Síochána and traffic accidents involving Garda vehicles, are handled by the State Claims Agency.
Complaints about gardaí are lodged with the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission, and a study of three years’ worth of complaints showed a substantiation rate of 4% for the period — higher than the 2% in 2015.
The study, conducted by Brian Moss for University College Dublin’s School of Sociology, also showed those most likely to make a complaint about gardaí are white, male, aged 18 to 40, and highly educated.
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner