Government accused of trying to blindfold survivors of symphysiotomy

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Health, Women's Rights

The following statement is from Marie O’Connor and the Survivors of Symphysiotomy. 

Survivors of Symphysiotomy are dismayed at the Government’s failure to engage with their demands, following their meeting with Minister James Reilly this afternoon. ‘Despite our best efforts, we failed to get clarification on any aspect of what is a pre-determined process’, said Marie O’Connor, Chairperson of Survivors of Symphysiotomy (SoS).

‘Minister Reilly obfuscated and refused to answer any question that SoS put to him. Asked whether he accepted that Caesarean section was the norm for difficult births in 1944, Minister Reilly said he would have to take legal advice before he could answer this question. By doing this, the Minister effectively refused to condemn the practice of symphysiotomy – an operation which should never have taken place.

‘Truth is a big ticket item for survivors of symphysiotomy. The official view is that there has been no medical negligence, or very little. Resolution cannot come from a lie.’

‘This Government is attempting to blindfold survivors of symphysiotomy by setting up an opaque and closed-ended process designed to lure them away from their legal actions.’

‘The experience of the Magdalene women shows that this is a process with a predetermined outcome. In this case, appointing a judge conceals the fact that, as Minister Reilly indicated so clearly last August, the Government has no intention of awarding damages for personal injuries commensurate with the court awards made in these cases.’

‘We have no criticism whatsoever to make of the appointment of Ms Murphy, per se, but this appointment is a smokescreen that hides the Minister’s refusal to entertain our offer of a negotiated settlement based on members’ legal actions and his opposition to the advancement of our Private Members’ Bill setting aside the Statute of Limitations.’

‘Survivors will not be led up the garden path in this way. At our last EGM, members unanimously decided not to engage in one to one “conversations” with judges or government officials. Instead, they mandated our National Executive to meet the judge appointed by government to see if a settlement based on truth – and on an accepted medical negligence scale – can be progressed.’

‘If not, our legal actions will continue and we will see test cases in the High Court in 2014.’