Garda and protester during the 'Love Ulster' parade riot of 2006

MORE than €420,000 a month is being paid to members of the public assaulted, mistreated or injured by the gardaí.

Figures obtained by the Sunday Tribune reveal that compensation payments arising from garda misbehaviour or negligence totalled €7.7m in the past 18 months.

A breakdown of claims shows 177 cases were taken against the force last year.

The figures are staggering and bring to light another cash-cow for solicitors and barristers. Up to 75% of the money paid out went on legal fees.

The single most expensive case from last year had not even reached a settlement, according to the Department of Justice. The compensation claim for "alleged malicious prosecution" has already cost €578,040 – solely in legal costs, the figures showed.

Another highly expensive mistake by gardaí cost the taxpayer €375,000 when an award was made to a victim of a "miscarriage of justice".

Eighteen settlements were made with victims of "garda assaults" in 2009. Payments in these cases ranged from €10,000 to €30,000. Half-a-dozen cases were taken against officers on the basis of "abuse of garda powers". Settlements in that category were as high as €33,000.

It is believed some of the cases related to unauthorised use of the garda's Pulse computer system.

An unidentified family involved in an action against gardaí arising from a death in custody also received a substantial five-figure settlement. Details of that case show they were offered €50,000 in cash. A further €42,189 was run up in legal costs.

Four separate civil actions taken against gardaí for "alleged negligence [or] breach of duty" left the taxpayer facing another massive bill. Three of the cases were settled for €70,000 each and the fourth for €90,000.

Another ongoing compensation claim could prove very expensive – a member of the public is suing for "alleged nervous shock following action by garda". Already, that case has seen legal fees of €58,819 amassed.

In another case, a member of the public was awarded €40,000 for "alleged defamation".