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United Nations report is severe indictment of Irish Government on symphysiotomy - Ó Caoláin

24 July, 2014 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Health spokepserson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described the report of the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva on the practice of symphysiotomy as a "severe indictment" of the Irish Government's failure on the issue. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva has concluded that the Irish Government has failed the victims of symphysiotomy and has failed to hold to account those who carried out this barbaric practice in Irish hospital for decades. The UN highlights the scandal that these operations were carried out without the informed consent of the women.

"The UN Committee has expressed concern at the State’s failure to initiate a prompt, and comprehensive independent investigation into symphysiotomy. It is also concerned at the failure to identify, prosecute and punish, where still possible, the perpetrators for performing symphysiotomy without patient consent and to provide effective remedies to survivors of symphysiotomy for the damage sustained as a result of these operations.

"This UN conclusion tears to pieces the defence presented by the Irish Government to the EU Committee, a defence that tried to justify and explain away the barbaric practice of symphysiotomy.

"I call on the Government to now implement the recommendations of the UN Committee and to initiate a prompt, independent and thorough investigation into cases of symphysiotomy, prosecute and punish the perpetrators, including medical personnel, and provide an effective remedy to the survivors of symphysiotomy for the damage sustained, including fair and adequate compensation and rehabilitation, on an individualized basis.

"As recommended by the UN, the Government should now facilitate access to judicial remedies by victims, including allowing successful passage of the Statute of Limitations Amendment Bill introduced that I presented in the Dáil in 2013. In the case of those opting for the ex-gratia scheme provision should be made for a challenge to the sums offered to them, as also recommended by the UN.

"This UN report is a vindication of those who have campaigned for truth and justice for all the survivors of symphysiotomy."

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