Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has described the Taoiseach’s response to the issue of symphysiotomy and to the needs of its victims as ‘inadequate.’
The Louth TD raised the issue in the Dáil last week. Teachta Adams asked the Taoiseach when the government planned to publish the two overdue reports on symphysiotomy –the report by retired Circuit Court Judge Yvonne Murphy and that of Prof Oonagh Walsh.
The Walsh report has been in the possession of the Minister for Health from May of last year. Judge Murphy was appointed in November to report within 8 weeks on the ‘possible course of action’ that might be taken by the government to address the issues raised by the victims of symphysiotomy, in particular the issue of a redress scheme.
It is now the middle of March and there is still no sign of the reports being published.
Speaking last week in the Dáil Teachta Adams told the Taoiseac:
“We have all met victims of symphysiotomy. We know how cruel this procedure was. One victim described it as ‘evil. Pure evil.’ The survivors of symphysiotomy are elderly and frail. The government’s delay in dealing with this issue promptly and effectively is causing undue hurt.”
The Taoiseach said he was unable to clarify the points raised by Teachta Adams and that he would write to him.
This week the Taoiseach replied in a letter to the Sinn Féin leader.The Taoiseach confirms that the Minister for Health expects to receive Judge Murphy’s report shortly and he says: ‘When he (the Minister) has examined the report he will revert to government with detailed proposals, so that a decision can be taken on a way forward that will facilitate closure for the women concerned.’
Commenting on the Taoiseach’s reply Gerry Adams said:
“This week the group, which represents survivors of symphysiotomy, submitted a detailed report to the United Nations that alleges that the state violated the rights of the one and a half thousand women who suffered this barbaric practice, of whom around 200 are still alive.
The report claims that symphysiotomy constituted torture because ‘severe pain and suffering, both physical and mental, were intentionally inflicted on women and girls, for reasons based on discrimination’.
Once again the extent of the horror inflicted on these women has been recorded in the media and in a public report.
The Taoiseach’s response to this issue is inadequate. The victims have a right to know when the Murphy and Walsh reports will finally be published and when the government plans to produce its proposals. Given the age profile of the surviving women to delay is to deny more women their right to justice and proper care and compensation.
“The government needs to respond to this issue speedily and effectively.”