Discussions with judge about mediating on symphysiotomy compensation - Reilly
Dáil hears claims department delaying on resolution until all the survivors are dead
A symphysiotomy demonstration outside the Dáil. The Minister for Health James Reilly said symphysiotomy was one of a myriad of legacy issues left behind by previous governments which the Government would deal with.
Dr Reilly said, “I can categorically state that this is not the department’s approach and it is certainly not my approach nor that of my Government colleagues.”
The Minister said discussions were taking place with a judge about identifying how to proceed on the issue to best address the needs of women affected by symphysiotomy – where their pelvises were broken unnecessarily in a procedure, carried out before or after labour.
The procedure was continued as a practice until the 1990s and many women suffered long-term problems including incontinence, prolapsed organs and difficulty walking. In some instances, affected women are seeking compensation of between €250,000 and up to €450,000 for those most seriously injured.
Survivors had sought legislation removing a statute of limitations to allow them to seek redress in the courts. At a meeting early last month with support groups representing the women, Dr Reilly proposed that the Attorney General approach a judge to mediate on the issue.
He said they were in discussions with a judge who would make recommendations on how to expedite the issue.
Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin criticised the Minister for what he described as “no real progress” since the Minister’s meeting with the support groups on August 1st. Mr Ó Caoláin expressed concern about “delaying tactics” and said there had been no progress on his private member’s Bill, debated in the Dáil in April and accepted by the Minister, to remove the statute of limitations and allow the women take legal action.
He said one of the women had asked him, “How many surviving victims must die before the Minister and his department act?”
The Cavan-Monaghan TD also expressed concern that the Minister had refused a meeting with legal firms representing 167 women, who were seeking discussions to reach an agreed settlement.
Dr Reilly told him, however: “I want the money to go to the women who suffered, not to legal firms.”
The Minister said symphysiotomy was one of a myriad of legacy issues left behind by previous governments which they would deal with.