The Department of Defence expects to pay out €300 million to compensate almost 17,000 members of the armed forces whose hearing was damaged by shooting and explosions.

The Minister for Defence, Michael Smith, said court awards and settlements totalling €277 million have already been paid out to more than 15,000 claimants from the army, air force and navy.

Claimants sued the State on the basis that they were not provided with adequate ear protection on firing ranges.