Teen settles action against Scouting Ireland over injury when he fell from tyre swing

Teen Settles Action Against Scouting Ireland Over Injury When He Fell From Tyre Swing
“Do you appreciate you are putting quite an onus on the voluntary organisation to teach you how to do something basic?” the judge also asked. Photo: PA Images
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High Court reporters

A young Waterford man has settled his High Court personal injuries claim against Scouting Ireland over breaking both his wrists when he fell from a tyre swing while camping seven years ago.

Paul Mullarkey’s settlement came shortly after the judge asked him if he appreciated the consequences that would come if he lost the case.


Mr Justice Tony O’Connor asked the 18-year-old if he knew that his future earnings could be attached to court orders in the event he went on to lose the action.

“Do you appreciate you are putting quite an onus on the voluntary organisation to teach you how to do something basic?” the judge also asked.

Shortly after this exchange, the plaintiff’s senior counsel, Richard McDonnell, said the case had settled and could be struck out. No details of the settlement were disclosed to the court.

Scouting Ireland Services Limited BY and the Scout Association of Ireland Trust Corporation denied liability and filed a full defence to the case.


The action was initiated four years ago when Mr Mullarkey, of Fitzgerald Terrace, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, was a minor. It was initially brought via his father, John Mullarkey, but an order was made to amend this due to Paul Mullarkey reaching his majority.

Fall while camping

Prior to the settlement, Mr Mullarkey’s senior counsel, Richard McDonnell, said the plaintiff was aged 12 when he fell off a tyre swing on July 5th, 2017, while camping with his scouts group near a lake in Co Wicklow. He lost consciousness and fractured his wrists. He was brought to hospital and was required to wear casts for about three months, the court was told.

The plaintiff’s legal team alleged the accident was “entirely foreseeable” as the swing, which was too high from the ground, was “known for causing trouble over a period of time”. There should have been some warning “at the very least” or there should have been “some degree of minor supervision”, Mr McDonnell said.

Finbarr Fox SC, with Adrienne Fields BL, for the defendants, said the tyre swing under scrutiny is similar to what can be found “all over the country”. The case concerned a “simple activity where, unfortunately, a lad fell off a swing”. Blame could not be laid at his client’s feet.


Children have to be allowed to play and have fun, Mr Fox said, adding: “This was an accident. That is all it was.”

In the witness box, Paul Mullarkey said his feet dangled as he tried to hold on to the swing’s rope. He was pushed for momentum and his hands slid from the rope to the tyre and he fell off face forward on top of his hands, he said.

The three months wearing casts were “horrible” and the “worst time of my life”, he said, adding that he has not played hurling or rugby since the accident.

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