Symphysiotomy survivors vow to continue opposing Government’s u-turn on bill

Survivors say proposed compensation scheme will stop them getting justice

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly opposed Private Members’ Bill lifting statute of limitations on compensation on legal grounds. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly opposed Private Members’ Bill lifting statute of limitations on compensation on legal grounds. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Mon, Dec 9, 2013, 01:00


Some 200 symphysiotomy survivors and their families turned out at public meetings in Dublin and Cork yesterday to voice their disapproval at the Government’s handling of their compensation claim.

Survivors of Symphysiotomy (SoS), which represents almost all the 300 or so women who underwent the procedure, said members are “appalled” at the Government’s decision to oppose its Private Members’ Bill.

The Bill was moved by Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin and initially the Government indicated its support. It would have allowed for the lifting of the statute of limitations, but the Minister for Health Dr James Reilly ruled it out on legal grounds.

Instead, the Government has asked Judge Yvonne Murphy to examine how a redress scheme could be structured and how the Government could contribute by way of an ex gratia scheme.

Speaking yesterday, SoS chairwoman Marie O’Connor said its members were “appalled” at the Government U-turn on the Bill. She accused the Government of continuing to cling to the “false narrative” that symphysiotomy procedures, which involved sawing through the pelvic bone to widen the birth canal, was an acceptable medical procedure.

“Taken in tandem with the ‘redress’ scheme recently announced, this appears to be a pincer movement aimed at preventing survivors from accessing truth and justice,” she said.

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