Army relief as ex-soldier drops claim
A DECISION by an Army corporal to withdraw claims for damages as a result of suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) while serving overseas with the Defence Forces has eased fears of another avalanche of compensation payouts.
A new wave of claims was anticipated if this case, which was regarded as a test, had been successful.
The Department of Defence currently has about 38 personal injury claims, primarily alleging PTSD, arising from service abroad.
Defence Minister Willie O'Dea recently told the Dail that 10 of those cases were in the process of being discontinued.
Taxpayers have already had to foot a bill of €288.7m for hearing loss claims, including legal costs for the soldiers totalling €100.2m.
The department has disposed of 16,139 claims while a further 668 have yet to be determined.
The latest stress claim had been taken on behalf of Kevin McBride, who claimed he had been traumatised by incidents, including an ambush of a convoy in which he was travelling in Somalia in 1994. He saw eight Somali soldiers being thrown into the back of a convoy lorry with their heads "hanging off and spouting blood".
The court heard Mr McBride (53), of Cloonteah, Newtownforbes, Co Longford, had joined the Army in 1975 and was discharged in 1998 because of a psychological illness, leading to ineffectivity.
He had gone on month-long drinking binges when he came back from Lebanon in 1996, his counsel said.
He had also experienced trauma as a result of a 16-day Israeli bombardment near an Irish base in 1996 in which there were "bodies all round".
His legal team contended that Mr McBride had not received proper assessment or counselling by army medical authorities following his experiences.
The department intended its defence would be a denial that Mr McBride suffered severe personal and psychological injury or if he did suffer it, the injury was caused solely by his dependence on alcohol.
However, the claim was withdrawn before the State opened its case.