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Government Appoints Judge to Consider Claims for Symphysiotomy Injury Compensation

The Government has appointed Judge Yvonne Murphy to work out a solution to the issue of claims for symphysiotomy injury compensation following its U-turn on extending the Statute of Limitations.

Dr James Reilly – the Minister for Health – announced this week in a press conference that Judge Yvonne Murphy has been asked to compile options for women who wish to make claims for symphysiotomy injury compensation.

Around 300 women survive who underwent the controversial childbirth procedure in Irish hospitals between 1940 and 1990 – many of whom now have difficulty in walking, suffer chronic pain and incontinence as a result.

Judge Murphy has been asked to look at feasible compensation options for review in February 2014, to compensate the women for the pain they experienced at the time of the symphysiotomy and throughout the rest of their lives.

The Minister said that the Government would contribute to an ex gratia scheme if that was a recommended option , and it is believed that Judge Murphy will be speaking with insurance companies to explore whether they would contribute towards such a scheme.

Originally the Government planned to allow a Private Members Bill introduced by Sinn Féin’s Health Spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin through the Dáil, which would have enabled a one-year window for the women claims for symphysiotomy injury compensation.

However legal advisors told the Government that, by offering a window in the Statute of Limitations, they could face a legal challenge from the insurance companies who would have been liable for compensating the women and the support for the Bill was withdrawn.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin criticised plans to keep the statute of limitations in place and said “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.”

However Tom Moran – Chairman of the support group Survivors of Symphysiotomy Ltd – welcomed the prospect of his members being able to resolve their claims for symphysiotomy injury compensation. “We welcome this decision to appoint the judge and we hope it leads to women finally being given a chance of some kind of closure.”