Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams has criticised the refusal of the government to publish the second part of the report by Professor Oonagh Walsh into symphysiotomy.
In a PQ response to the Sinn Féin leader the Minister for Health has stated his intention not to publish the report until after the government has reached its decision on this issue.
Teachta Adams said:
“The Department of Health received the Walsh report at the end of May and it was provided to the Minister for Health on May 31st.
“Three months later we are now told by Minister Reilly that the government will not publish it until after it has reached a ‘decision on this complex and sensitive matter.’
“Victims and campaigners, and their supporters have a right to see the final report of Professor Oonagh Walsh and the Dáil has the right to scrutinise or comment on the report, before the government makes any decisions.
“The decision to appoint a Judge to engage in a mediation process also risks prolonging a conclusion to this issue for the victims of this barbaric and cruel practice.
“There are now only around 200 victims still surviving. They are all very elderly and carry deep physical and emotional scars from their experience. Some are quite frail. They simply cannot afford to wait months or longer for justice. Time is therefore of the essence.
“The Ministers claim that it is ‘open to any woman not wishing to pursue mediation to bring a claim through the courts’ ignores the fact that many of the women cannot do this because of the Statue of Limitations.
“In April the Government supported the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013, introduced by Caoimhghín O Caoláin TD, which seeks to accommodate access to the courts for all victims of symphysiotomy who would choose that course of action. However the government is preventing further progress on this.
“The process of securing justice for these women victims is very important.
“The government is adding to the stress on victims and is ignoring the Dáil, by refusing to publish the Walsh report.
“The victims of symphysiotomy must have the right to decide which course of action is best for them in their efforts to secure justice and compensation. To do that the government must publish the Walsh report; the terms of reference for the Judge and mediation process; a fixed and short timeframe for this process to take place and assist the passage of the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013.
QUESTION NO: 1406
QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Health (Dr. James Reilly)
by Deputy Gerry Adams for WRITTEN ANSWER on 18/09/2013
To ask the Minister for Health when the final Report by Professor Oonagh Walsh into the practice of symphysiotomy will be published.
Gerry Adams T.D.
I do not intend to publish the final report on Symphysiotomy in Ireland referred to by the Deputy until the Government has reached a decision on this complex and sensitive matter.
I met the support groups representing the women who have been affected by symphysiotomy on 1st August 2013 and informed them that a decision has not yet been made by Government on how to put closure on the issue. I proposed at that meeting that I would initiate a mediation process for the women affected by symphysiotomy. I intend to appoint a judge to conduct this mediation. At the conclusion of the mediation process, the judge will advise me on how the matter may be progressed. I will then be in a position to bring proposals to Government and to publish the report as soon as possible after that. It is, of course, open to any woman not wishing to pursue mediation to bring a claim through the courts.