Survivors will not enter Magdalene type redress scheme
Following a meeting between members of Survivors of Symphysiotomy (SoS) and Minister for Health James Reilly, SoS Chairperson Marie O’Connor has said that survivors will not engage with any so-called redress scheme based on the Magdalene model.
“The Minister tried to bind us into “mediation” with a judge – the first step, as we see it, towards a Magdalene type scheme. We have seen how the survivors of the laundries were shafted by the government – we will not go down that smoke and mirrors road. Redress is not the same as restitution, as the Magdalen report makes clear.”
“Minister Reilly said he wants to “find the quickest way forward” yet he refuses to negotiate a settlement, the fastest way forward of all. Our members have been stalled for 11 years. Schemes run by bureaucrats generally take several years. The last thing survivors need is more foot dragging.”
“We have been mandated by our members to seek a just and fair settlement on foot of the 200-plus legal actions our members are taking – but the Minister was not interested. He dismissed out of hand the idea that any survivor – even the most badly injured – might get €250,00 in restitution for a lost life.”
“As the representative body of over 98 per cent of survivors, we told Minister Reilly that we have been given a very strong mandate from our members to negotiate on their behalf. But the Minister wants “mediation”, not negotiation.”
“He gave no firm commitment to meet our demands for a negotiated settlement. Nor did he give any real undertaking to ensure that our Bill lifting the statute bar would be enacted, even though the Bill has already passed Second Stage and has strong support from all sides of the House.”
“The Statute of Limitations gives ammunition to defendant hospitals and doctors, allowing them to drag out proceedings as lawyers battle point of procedure related to time. Passing our Bill is the most effective and rapid way of achieving truth and justice for our members”, said the Chairperson. “This would give all survivors ready access to the courts.”
“We remain focused on our core objectives of truth and justice – we will not engage one to one with any process that paves the way for a Magdalene type scheme to be imposed on our members.”
“These are personal injury cases involving medical negligence. No Magdalene type scheme can deal fairly with such cases. The government will only make meaningful awards where negligence has been proved. How can survivors denied legal assistance – as the Magdalenes were – and access to independent doctors prove their operations were negligent?”
SoS had 20 members at Hawkin’s House. One of those on the delegation was the founder of the organisation, Matilda Beehan, who has suffered lifelong injuries as a result of a symphysiotomy operation performed without her consent in Holles Street Hospital in 1959.
“I don’t think the minister has acknowledged openly that a wrong has been committed. If you want to deal with this issue, then the first step is the acknowledgement that operations were wrong” Ms Beehan said.
“In the end I am not the only victim, my family has suffered as well. I can never forgive them.”