Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the protocol by which persons may gain recourse to compensation for losses, or the payment of costs, arising from damage caused to their property by members of An Garda Síochána, acting in the course of their duties.
REPLY | Minister Frances Fitzgerald):
Claims from property owners for damage caused to their properties arising from searches undertaken by the Garda Síochána are delegated to and managed by the State Claims Agency (SCA) and claims should be submitted in writing to the Agency. Each claim is considered separately depending on the particular facts of the case.
The general policy of the State Claims Agency, however, in relation to such claims is that where the Gardaí cause damage to property in conducting a search, any claim from the property owner in respect of that damage is contested unless there’s demonstrable negligence on the part of the Garda authorities and/ or where they did not have a search warrant or other lawful authority to carry out a forced entry operation. Search warrants authorise the Gardaí to use force to gain entry to a property if necessary and the Gardaí have no legal liability to the property owner for the damage caused in forcing entry to the property. The approach taken by the State Claims Agency in contesting these claims has been upheld by the Courts in a number of claims brought to Court by property owners.