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Symphysiotomy Report lacks empathy – Ó Caoláin

26 January, 2017 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD


Speaking in the Dáil today in the course of Statements on Symphysiotomy, Cavan-Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin roundly rejected  the Report presented by the judicial assessor appointed to oversee the Surgical Symphysiotomy Payment Scheme, Judge Maureen Harding Clark. Deputy Ó Caoláin, who has been a consistent voice for justice for the survivors of symphysiotomy, labelled both the scheme and the Report as “a national disgrace”.

In the course of his contribution, Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

 “The tone of Judge Clark’s report shows little empathy with the claimant women. Many of them, and we know this from their testimonies, have lived a life of reduced capacity, discomfort and the ever presence of embarrassing side effects. Judge Clark acknowledges that 142 of the 183 who were awarded higher payments were assessed as having suffered ‘significant disability’. Yet, she goes on to state on the subsequent page that the ‘majority of applicants who underwent symphysiotomy made a good recovery’. That must surely be a comfort to the cadre of obstetricians who have defended their and their colleagues’ actions in years past, but how far past? A footnote on page 18 speculates that ‘it is possible that one or two symphysiotomy procedures were carried out in 2003/2004 at the Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda’. Take note that is in 21st century Ireland.

“What I find most galling of all is that Judge Clark, who did not interview all of the claimant women, has declared, based on her so called findings, and with an obvious eye of deference towards the consultants representative body and its members reputations, past and present, that the evidence before her ‘did not confirm that symphysiotomy inevitably leads to lifelong pain or disability’ or that these symphysiotomy patients aged in a manner which was different to non-symphysiotomy women.

“Judge Clark, let me assure you, that there was a difference. The difference was there in the lives lived and the daily reality of those women and for a lifetime.

“This Report is shameful. The character and integrity of the women has been placed in question. Judge Clark’s conduct of the scheme entrusted to her has been, in the view of many, both flawed and dismissive. Her treatment of the victims and the paltry payments involved amount to a National disgrace.” 

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