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Adams calls on Government to lift Statute of Limitations for Symphysiotomy Victims

17 July, 2012 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today called on the government to make time in the Dáil calendar to introduce a Statute of Limitations Amendment Act that would set aside for a 12 month period the statute of limitations in respect of several hundred victims of symphysiotomy.

The Sinn Féin leader raised the issue in one of the last Leaders Questions before the summer recess.

Teachta Adams described the Taoiseach’s response – which said that the Minister for Health is examining the recent court judgement in the Olivia Kearney case – as “inadequate, insufficient and disappointing.”

The Louth TD reminded the Taoiseach that symphysiotomy “is an 18th century surgical operation performed on women that unhinges the pelvis, splits the pubic joint and its ligaments with a surgical knife or a saw. Patients were rarely asked for their consent, they were never told of the nature of the surgery or its risks, or offered the safer alternative of a caesarean section.

“Approximately 350 of the estimated 1500 symphysiotomy’s were carried out in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda, many without the consent of the women victimised by this procedure.

“There have been statements in the Dáil and in the Seanad on this issue. In opposition both government parties, including the Minister for Health, gave full support to the women involved.

“There are now 200 or so survivors of symphysiotomy and some are quite frail. They are all very elderly and carry deep physical and emotional scars from their experience.

“In order that justice is done the government should introduce legislation to lift the statute of limitations so that those who want to can seek redress through the courts. There is precedence for this. It was done previously on the issue of child abuse.

“Such a decision does not exclude the creation of a redress scheme for those who do not wish to take the route of court action.

“I am quite confident that all deputies and parties would support such a move.”


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