NEWS — 01 July 2014

545symphysiotomy at Dail

The Irish Government has agreed a €34 million redress scheme for women subjected to symphysiotomy.

Campaign groups have been actively calling for action over the childbirth procedure, in which the mother’s pelvis was broken, which affected over 1300 women since the 1920s.

The scheme is thought not to be a straightforward compensation payment however, and the reported €34 million will be paid on an ex-grata basis without admission of liability from the State.

The purported theory behind this is to prevent claimants going through the courts and incurring high legal fees.

The Survivors of Symphysiotomy (SOS) campaign group had previously said that they would not accept such an arrangement.

There are roughly 230 symphysiotomy victims still alive today, and the procedure is known to have been carried out in Drogheda Hospital as recently as 1984.

This was years after it had ceased being used as a childbirth method in other hospitals in the country, once caesarean had been adopted as an alternative.

Women subjected to symphyisiotomy have suffered from a number of mental and physical problems throughout their lives including incontinence, chronic pain and impaired mobility as well as sexual problems.

Campaign groups have called the treatment torture under Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture, which states “severe pain and suffering and both physical and mentally” were intentionally and deliberately inflicted.

The Department of Health commissioned Professor Oonagh Walsh to prepare a report into the practice in 2013, while Judge Yvonne Murphy’s Government report is to be released later today.

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