Thalidomide survivors seek compensation

Monday 28 November 2011 12.24
Balloons released representing 32 survivors
Balloons released representing 32 survivors

Irish survivors of Thalidomide - the morning sickness drug which caused babies to be born with physical deformities - have accused the Government of reneging on a commitment to discuss compensation.

This weekend 50 years ago Thalidomide was withdrawn from the international market, although it was not withdrawn in Ireland for several months afterwards.

Members of the Irish Thalidomide Association, which represents most of the 32 known survivors, released 50 balloons outside Leinster House to mark the 50th anniversary.

John Stack, one the survivors who would have avoided his disabilities if the drug had been taken off the Irish market at the same time as other countries, has said his injuries were directly attributable to the failure of the Irish State to protect him as an unborn child.

Survivors say that compensation given to them in the 1970s was inadequate, especially as many of them are now entering their 50s and the long-term effects of their disabilities are taking their toll.

The Irish Thalidomide Association has said that the Government had given a commitment in its Programme for Government to resolve the issue of compensation.

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly had confirmed in July that discussions would start after the summer.

The ITA says that the minister and the Government have reneged on these promises.

A spokesman for Dr Reilly said that the Attorney-General has advised that Ireland is not liable for the injuries caused by Thalidomide.

But, the spokesperson has said that the minister is willing to make a financial gesture of goodwill to the survivors and is anxious that their health needs are met.