Groups representing haemophiliacs infected with hepatitis C and HIV through State-administered contaminated blood products are calling on the Dáil to reject a new Government bill aimed at providing insurance for their members.

The four groups say that the bill, which is expected to go before the Dáil later this week, would undermine the rights and entitlements of hepatitis C sufferers.

In response, the Department of Health has defended the move.

It argues that it brings Ireland in line with other jurisdictions where compensation schemes operate.

Over 250 haemophiliacs contracted hepatitis and HIV through infected blood and blood products which had been prescribed by medical experts in Ireland during the 1970s and 1980s.

Since the scandal came to light, those affected have been involved in a fight for justice with the issue of life insurance provision being the final sticking point in their battle.

The Irish Haemophilia Society, the Irish Kidney Association, Positive Action and Transfusion Positive are calling on all Dáil deputies to support their opposition to the bill, which introduces a new scientific definition for hepatitis C, which is used in other jurisdictions.

They say that this definition will exclude a number of haemophiliacs who were treated with infected blood and who have displayed medical symptoms of hepatitis C but who have as yet not tested positive for the disease.

They are also critical of an amendment to the 2002 Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal Act which restricts the entitlement of some spouses and partners of hepatitis C sufferers, to claim compensation.