Written answers

Thursday, 13 July 2023

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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220. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of ex-members of the Defence Forces who current receive a restricted/reduced pension based on an award received in court in respect of an injury they sustained during service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35571/23]

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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I take it that the Deputy is referring to pensions awarded under the Army Pensions Acts 1923 to 1980 (as amended), as no Army pensions are awarded by the Courts.

The Army Pensions Acts provide for the grant of pensions and gratuities to former members of the Permanent Defence Force in respect of permanent disablement due to a wound or injury attributable to military service (whether at home or abroad) or due to disease attributable to or aggravated by overseas service with the United Nations.

Section 13(2) of the Army Pensions Act, 1923, as amended, provides that “Any compensation which may be received from or on behalf of the person alleged to be responsible for the act which caused the wounding ... may be taken into consideration in fixing the amount of any pension, allowance or gratuity which might be awarded under this Act to or in respect of such person and if such compensation is received after the award of any such pension or allowance the Minister may review the award and, having regard to the amount of such compensation, either terminate or reduce the amount thereof.”

The underlying objective of Section 13(2) is to prevent double compensation in respect of the same disablement. Compensation of the kind in question would usually result from a civil action for damages against the Department of Defence, but compensation received from any other source is not excluded.

As at the end of June 2023 there are 1,062 Disability Pensions in payment of which 274 have had a reduction under Section 13(2) applied.

There have been a number of key cases both at Supreme and High Court levels involving Section 13(2) and procedures in relation to individual cases take account of these judgements. The Courts, in various previous judgements, have upheld the Minister’s statutory right to take into consideration that part of the damages which can properly be regarded as general damages or that part which can properly be regarded as referable to loss of earnings, as he considers proper.

The reduction of these pensions is provided for under legislation and is done on foot of a bona fide decision by the Minister after careful consideration of the specific circumstances of each case. The person or their solicitor is advised of the statutory provisions and of the potential implications of their application. Representations are invited regarding, in particular, the person's circumstances; details of the compensation actually received; and whether there are any special or extenuating circumstances involved. Full account is then taken of such representations before a final decision is made by the Minister.

There are no plans to review the legislative provision in question.


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