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Clark report into symphysiotomy does disservice to survivors – Munster

27 January, 2017 - by Imelda Munster TD

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath, Imelda Munster has this week commended the bravery of survivors of symphysiotomy. Speaking in the Dáil on the publication of the Clark Report on the Surgical Symphysiotomy Ex Gratia Payments Scheme, Deputy Munster spoke of the impact that the brutal practice of symphysiotomy has had on many women in her constituency, with many women left with life-long disability, medical problems and psychological damage.

Deputy Munster said:

“I welcome the fact many women were offered compensation under the surgical symphysiotomy ex gratia payments scheme, but this was not the scheme the survivors or their supporters wanted after they had endured a long, hard fight to get to this stage.

“Symphysiotomy procedures dropped off after the 1960s in most parts of the country in favour of caesarean sections, but not at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, where they were, unfortunately, carried out right into the 1980s.”

Deputy Munster raised a number of concerns about the payment scheme, including the fact that women were not allowed to give oral evidence, and nobody was ever brought to justice, despite causing so much damage to so many women.

Deputy Munster continued:

Liability was never admitted by the medical profession or others, and the survivors were not afforded the opportunity to give oral evidence, to tell their story or have their voices heard. The pain of these women must be recognised by the State and by Irish society.”

Deputy Munster also expressed disappointment with some parts of Judge Harding Clark’s report on the scheme.

Deputy Munster stated:

“It comes as a disappointment that the report and media coverage of it left a bad taste in some of the survivors’ mouths. There was much focus on the women who did not receive payments under the scheme, and the inference is that they were confused or deluded, or even that they were lying. This does a great disservice to the women involved.”

Deputy Munster also commended the bravery and the hard work of the survivors and their supporters in their fight for justice and redress.

Deputy Munster concluded:

“I would like to commend all the women who were brave enough to take on this fight for justice and redress and all who came before the scheme. I hope they feel vindicated. I hope they feel the brutal procedure that was done on them has been recognised by the State as precisely that. I hope they feel at the end of the day they got some sort of justice for the pain that they went through for the rest of their lives.” 

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