£1.6m in pavement-fall compensation
More than £1.6 million has been paid in compensation to victims of footpath accidents in Northern Ireland in the last two years.
The scale of personal injury payouts linked to falls on the pavements was revealed in new statistics released by the Department for Regional Development.
John Dallat, an SDLP member of the public accounts committee (PAC) at Stormont, also disclosed that more than £4 million was paid out in damages to members of the public injured on the roads as well as the footpaths.
He claimed that when compensation levels were discussed by the PAC last February, he claimed the department was not prepared to consider anything in its performance which could be improved.
But after the latest figures, Mr Dallat insisted the payouts for such incidents were unsustainable and claimed solicitors were to blame.
He said: "Clearly, with over £4 million paid out in the last two years, there is an urgent need to review the notion that nothing can be improved. These figures suggest there is still much to be done."
Mr Dallat said the Department had also been asked to address why compensation claims in Northern Ireland were considerably higher than in England and Wales.
He said: "It is totally inappropriate that the legal profession appears to be setting rates of compensation and fees largely in isolation from the public and private sector bodies which will have to bear these costs.
"It was said then and still applies that this is an unhealthy situation which must be revisited.
"In these times of austerity, it is critical that there is an urgent review to establish if the seven recommendations made in the PAC report in 2010 are being complied with, and the 'gravy train' has been halted, or at least slowed down to the same speed as applies in England and Wales."