A sting in the tail to the public purse

Muarice Hayes in today’s Irish Independent, points out the some of the potential ramifications if the class action to be taken by 5000 former and serving police officers is successful.He is unambiguous about the experience of the RUC under fire:

More than that, however, it will expose to public scrutiny the sufferings of members of the RUC, 307 of whom were killed in the Troubles. This action is about those who survived, not only those who were incapacitated, disabled or grossly injured, but those who encountered horror in the wake of an explosion or fire bomb. Those who had, literally, to pick up the pieces of dismembered bodies and put them into plastic bags, those who had to scramble through blood and brains and body parts in the search for clues or survivors.

There were those too who saw their closest colleagues and friends shot down or vapourised beside them by a bomb, those who spent a quarter of a century in fear of their lives, never safe from a sneak attack even when off duty, even in the privacy of their own homes and in the presence of their children. Little wonder that many of them feel traumatised. It is a little-noticed fact too that six police officers died for every one shot by them. The picture of the RUC as a trigger-happy band of gunmen does not fit the facts.

But he goes on to argue that success in this action could unleash claims from others who might justly claim to have been traumatised by their professional experience of the troubles:

THE impact of a decision, if the case is upheld, will be very serious. Not only will there be a potential liability of hundreds of millions sterling, but the case will be made for similar treatment for firemen, ambulance men, nurses, paramedics, doctors, street sweepers and others exposed by duty to dealing with the effects of bombings and shootings.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty