The first sitting of the Tribunal of Inquiry to investigate the infection of haemophiliacs through contaminated blood products has concluded in Dublin. Two hundred and ten haemophiliacs were infected with Hepatitis C, and 103 were infected with HIV. 66 have died. The Tribunal Chairwoman Alison Lindsay said she recognised the sensitive nature of the inquiry and that a human tragedy had occurred. However, she said there was a job to be done and wanted the Tribunal to deal with this business speedily and efficiently. She said she would approach all of the issues with due regard to the sensitivities involved. Ms Lindsay said she expected the public hearings to begin in December or possibly January 2000.

Full representation was given to the Minister for Health and Children, the Blood Transfusion Services Board and the Irish Haemophilia Society. Several others were given limited representation.

The tribunal of inquiry has been welcomed by a British peer and former UK Minister. Lord Morris of Manchester praised the Irish Government for instituting the inquiry and said the British Government should follow suit. Lord Morris was the first British minister for the disabled in the 1970s and is now national president of the Haemophilia Society. He said many British sufferers had gone to their graves with a deep sense of injustice. Compensation had already been paid to British haemophiliacs who had contracted HIV, he said, but hepatitis C sufferers had so far been ignored.