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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 19 December, 2014

Symphysiotomy survivors to meet with Minister today

The support group says it hopes today’s Cabinet briefing and subsequent meeting won’t be just ‘box-ticking exercises’.

Image: Barratts/S&G Barratts/EMPICS Archive

SURVIVORS OF SYMPHYSIOTOMY are to meet with the Minister for Health today as the government tries to fulfill a promise to bring closure for the victims to the barbaric practice.

James Reilly will meet with the advocacy group, which represents up to 200 women, following a Cabinet briefing where he will raise the issue.

Chairperson Marie O’Connor has been critical of the government’s lack of action so far and hit out today for the short notice of 18 hours given ahead of today’s lunchtime meeting.

She said that many of the members of the National Excecutive are not from Dublin and have health issues.

“We have no idea what proposals the Minister is bringing to Cabinet this morning. We hope today’s meeting is not a box-ticking exercise, and, despite the eleventh hour notice, we will do everything we can to have a constructive engagement with the Minister,” she added.

The survivors are represented by a number of different support groups as they differ on preferred outcomes.

Likening their treatment to that of the Magdalene survivors, members of SOS rejected the mediation scheme which was suggested to replace going to the courts for redress. The organisation said they did not want to be involved in it because it was exploitative.

They also rejected a finding of the draft Walsh Report that stated the operations could be “medically acceptable”.

Symphysiotomies were surgical procedures were performed during the 1980s in Irish hospitals, long after they were discontinued by other jurisdictions. The operation involved unhinging the woman’s pelvis and widening it by up to 3.5 cm during childbirth. It was often used in Ireland as an alternative to the Caesarean Section as it was believed to facilitate future births.

Read: Minister does not want legal firms to benefit from symphysiotomy settlement

More: Symphysiotomy survivors gather to recount stories of torture

Interview: ‘I didn’t know if my baby was dead or alive for two days’

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