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At least 257 symphysiotomy survivors apply for redress scheme

The scheme has been criticised by some advocates for symphysiotomy survivors.

AT LEAST 257 women have applied for the Government’s Symphysiotomy Payment Scheme, according to the Department of Health.

Some survivors say they were “butchered” by the symphysiotomy operation.

The scheme has around €34 million available and participants will receive awards at three payment levels: €50,000, 100,000 and €150,000.

The Department said that many of the applications are from women in their late 80s or early 90s.

“Applications continue to come in at an increasing rate,” said its statement.


The applications are being assessed by Former High Court Judge Maureen Harding Clark. The Department described the scheme as “designed to be simple, straightforward and non-adversarial”, saying it aims to minimise the stress for all the women concerned. 

If women wish to pursue a legal action, they may opt out of the scheme at any stage in the process, up to the time of accepting their awards.

No one will waive their right to proceed with a court cases as a pre-condition of applying to the scheme. If they wish, women may obtain legal or professional advice to help in preparing to submit an application to the Payment Scheme, but this is not necessary.

The Department added that the High Court has confirmed that the scheme takes into account the needs of any woman with diminished mental capacity arising from dementia or other factors.


In a statement, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), Survivors of Symphysiotomy and the Chairman of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, Sir Nigel Rodley, voiced their deep reservations about the payment scheme.

They said that it includes a “deed of waiver and indemnity”.

ICCL Director Mr Mark Kelly said this means “that women who have spent their entire adult lives in pain should be required to waive their rights forever in exchange for a once-off payment from the State”.

Worse than that, the Varadkar waiver requires women accepting payments to facilitate the impunity of those who could be held responsible for their injuries, expressly including doctors, consultants, obstetricians and the Medical Missionaries of Mary which ran a hospital (Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda) where much of this surgical abuse was perpetrated.

They say that this runs directly counter to this summer’s recommendations by the UN Human Rights Committee on the scheme.

Survivors of Symphysiotomy Chair Ms Marie O’Connor said that the document “blatantly denudes [survivors] of their rights” and denies them recourse to any of the remedies for redress explicitly recommended by the UN Human Rights Committee.

83% of members of the Survivors of Symphysiotomy group rejected the scheme at meetings held in Cork and Dublin in November.

Read: Women “butchered” by symphysiotomy reject Government scheme>

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