Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Ó Caoláin calls for inquiry into practice of symphsiotomy

23 February, 2010


Sinn Féin Health and Children Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has secured a debate on the adjournment of the Dáil on the issue of symphysiotomy. Speaking during the course of the debate this evening Deputy Ó Caoláin reiterated his call for an inquiry into the issue of symphysiotomy.

He said:

“I thank the Ceann Comhairle for this opportunity but I have to say it is a disgrace on the part of the Government that we should have to return to the issue of symphysiotomy by way of adjournment debate. An inquiry into this barbaric practice should already have been held, reported and acted upon. Shame on the Minister for Health & Children and her Department for refusing to do so.

“I understand that the Minister is announcing tonight that she is to ask the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology to carry out a review and report on the practice of symphysiotomy. I await the Minister’s full statement but I have to say, if that is the extent of what is being done, it is not good enough. That is asking the institution responsible for the abuse to investigate itself. It is not a proper inquiry, though its establishment has come about as a result of pressure on the Minister to act. That pressure for a proper inquiry needs to be maintained.

“The RTÉ Prime Time programme of 18 February 2010 made a compelling case, including new evidence, for an inquiry. One of the most extraordinary pieces of evidence was one that did not take a great deal of research. It was on the number of symphysiotomies actually carried out. The Department of Health & Children was asked for a figure and gave one which they said was incomplete because they did not have all the relevant health board reports. Yet a reporter from Prime Time was able to go the National Library which has the relevant reports and find the correct figure. It was three times the Department’s estimate. This is a very sorry and embarrassing state of affairs for the Department to find itself in.

“People commented to me after the programme that it confirmed that not only should Michael Neary have been struck off the medical register, as he was, but he should have been brought before the courts. Interviewed on national television he accused the abused and traumatised survivors of symphysiotomy of being motivated by the ‘smell of money’. It was a sickening sight. This is the man who carried out numerous mutilations of women through unnecessary hysterectomies. The programme revealed that he is implicated in the symphysiotomy scandal as well. This alone merits a full inquiry.

“I call on the Minister for Health & Children to act immediately to establish an inquiry into this scandal. It should be headed by a competent and independent figure from outside of the medical establishment.

“It is time for the Minister to stop shielding the medical establishment and start acting on behalf of our citizens who were victims of this barbaric practice.” ENDS

Connect with Sinn Féin