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Symphysiotomy compensation scheme announced - but how many survivors will apply?

That’s according to a survivors group SOS, which describes its time limits as “draconian”.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

A REDRESS SCHEME for symphysiotomy survivors has been introduced, but one group has slammed it as being “flawed”.

Judge Maureen Clark has been appointed as Independent Assessor to the scheme, which is for women who underwent surgical symphysiotomy or pubiotomy. The scheme was announced on 1 July this year.

Participants will receive awards at three levels – €50,000, €100,000 and €150,000.

The Scheme is designed to be simple, straightforward and non-adversarial, and aims to minimise the stress for all the women concerned. Many of the women are elderly and may not want to experience the delay, publicity and financial risks that sometimes come with a court case. Minister Varadkar met all three support groups representing the women last September.

Two patient groups, Patient Focus and SOS Ltd, welcomed the appointment of Judge Clark. These groups said they will be writing to these women “to provide them with the information needed to make this process as easy as possible for them”.

A large number of the women wish to avail of the Scheme. We know this because we talk to them, their family members and their legal advisers on a daily basis.

However, Marie O’Connor from SOS, which represents the majority of women affected, said that it is the “second-worst scheme for victims of abuse in Ireland ever”.

She described the time limits as “draconian” and told Morning Ireland she believes it is procedurally flawed.  She said SOS are advising women to consult their legal advisors on the issue, and is advising all of the women to apply for the higher sum of €100,000.

The scheme means that the State does not have to admit liability for wrongdoing.

More than 150 cases are before the high court currently. If the women pursue these cases, they won’t be entitled to the compensation from this specific scheme.

However the scheme says:

Women may opt out of the scheme at any stage if they wish to pursue an action through the courts instead, up to the time of accepting their award. No one will have to 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, including financial support, to help in preparing to submit an application to the Payment Scheme, but this is not necessary.

The Irish Council of Civil Liberties has criticised the scheme, saying that it “falls short of meeting Ireland’s international human rights obligations to an ageing population” of symphysiotomy survivors.

Read: Survivor of Symphysiotomy: ‘It was 12 months before I could walk, people have no idea’>

Read: Symphysiotomy survivors seek DPP referrals in wake of UN report>

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