The Minister for Defence, Michael Smith, has told the Dáil that over €273m has been paid out in army deafness cases to date.

The minister said the figure included more than €91m in plaintiffs' costs.

Three hundred and twenty eight cases had been settled in court and 14,681 cases had been settled out of court.

He said more recent claims were being challenged in court because the issue had been in the public domain for some time.

At a peak, the minister said there were 54 claims being made a week, but this number was now down to four.