Minister’s symphysiotomy scheme offers neither truth nor justice – Ó Caoláin
Commenting on the terms of reference for Judge Yvonne Murphy announced by Health Minister James Reilly, the Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said:
“What is required for the some 200 surviving women maimed by symphysiotomy in this State is truth and justice. The terms of reference for Judge Yvonne Murphy published by Minister Reilly today offer the prospect of neither truth nor justice.
“The type of scheme outlined in the terms of reference offers the women no prospect of adequate compensation for what was so barbarically done to them nor the choice to pursue their rights in the courts.
“The terms of reference given to Judge Yvonne Murphy are unclear and the Minister in his meeting with Survivors of Symphysiotomy and with myself refused to clarify them.
“It is hugely disappointing that the Minister is now accepting the advice of the Attorney General who is recommending that the Statute of Limitations not be lifted to allow all the women affected to pursue their cases in the courts, if that is their wish.
“Minister Reilly has claimed that the women are free to pursue their cases in the courts but he knows that the Statute of Limitations prevents a significant number of the women from pursuing cases.
“The Minister has today confirmed that this Government is refusing to progress the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013 in my name that was passed unanimously through Second Stage by the Dáil last April. That is nothing short of disgraceful.
“The Minister in his statement claims that they will not be lifting the Statue of Limitations because they judge that “the best interests of the women are not served” by doing so, suggesting that cases would be lost. But in his meeting with me the Minister claimed that he had advice from the Attorney General that lifting the Statute would be unconstitutional.
“There is a further glaring contradiction in the Terms of Reference, Number 5 of which asks the judge to ‘assess the merits and cost to the State of proceeding with an ex-gratia scheme relative to allowing the court process to proceed’. What validity can such an assessment have when the Minister has already barred the way to the courts for many of the women by refusing to lift the Statute of Limitations?”