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Terrified woman (54) who lost €60k swing damages claim says she 'can't face people now'

Susan O'Mahoney sued over the ankle injury she sustained after getting off a 'bird's nest' basket swing in Co Tipperary.
A child's swing. Stock image

A child's swing. Stock image

Ciara O'Loughlin

A woman who lost a claim for damages in the High Court after breaking her ankle getting off a swing in a children's playground has said she is "terrified" after seeing online comments.

Susan O'Mahoney (54), from Clonmel in Tipperary, said she has not left her house since the story broke as she "can't face people now".

Ms O'Mahoney sued over the ankle injury she sustained - it had her in a cast for six weeks and an ankle boot for four weeks - after getting off a 'bird's nest' basket swing in a community playground in Newcastle, Co Tipperary.

However, Mr Justice Michael Twomey found there was no negligence or breach of duty by Tipperary County Council.

Ms O'Mahoney, who said losing the case will cost her €20,000 in legal fees, said she will be appealing the case, which she said has been listed for the Supreme Court for the end of this month.

The incident happened on March 30, 2016.

The now 54-year-old was minding a child aged two years and 10 months at the time and she decided to join the toddler on the swing.

"The basket swing is fairly large and heavy so I put him on that, but you can't really swing high with that because it's heavy so it sways rather than swings," Ms O'Mahoney told the Herald.

"So I put him on that but instead of standing and pushing him - because (the swing) is so big that if you make a sudden movement the child could fall out the other side, or you could do yourself a back injury.

"So the best thing to do - and I see it done all the time and I see it is done still - is to sit beside him on it and have the little sway on it with him.

"But when I went to get off it the rim of the basket drilled under my knee and got my leg underneath me and I broke my ankle. I was in horrendous pain with it at the time."

Ms O'Mahoney said she decided to sue Tipperary County Council after hearing this had happened to a number of other people.

However, this was not her first port of call. She initially tried to contact a local councillor but had no luck.

"I contacted a solicitor that I knew here in the area and he got an engineer to look at the swing and he said to me, 'This is serious, the swing is a foot too low compared to standard'," she said.

"He said, 'This is an accident waiting to happen', so it was then that we decided to take action.

"We still didn't know who owned the playground but it turned out it was Tipperary County Council."

Through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, Ms O'Mahoney said she was offered €22,000, which she accepted. However, this was not accepted by Tipperary County Council.

"It was never about money for me. I tried other avenues first but unfortunately, councillors don't want to know," she said. "I asked for help simply just to alert whoever owned the playground to get it fixed if something needed to be done, it's a serious issue within the community."

Since her address was included in reports of the case, the Tipperary woman said she is so "distressed".

"I can't believe our address was given out, because there's so many different personalities, I'm terrified that someone could come to the door about it. For these next few days, I will be worried about that."

Sarah Kennedy, from Cahir, in Tipperary, also lost a separate High Court case for €60,000 after sustaining an ankle injury getting off the same swing.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio 1's Liveline, Ms O'Mahoney said Ms Kennedy also has not left her house after the story emerged on Thursday.

"I can't talk about someone else, but I know she's in her bedroom at home," she said.

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