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Labour calls for State apology and compensation for thalidomide survivors

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that he wanted to develop a “mediation approach” with the survivors.

Representatives of Thalidomide Ireland outside the High Court in 2018
Representatives of Thalidomide Ireland outside the High Court in 2018
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

LABOUR PARTY LEADER Ivana Bacik has called for the Taoiseach to issue a State apology and a compensation package for thalidomide survivors in Ireland.

Thalidomide was a drug originally used as a sedative for pregnant women in the 1950s and 1960s and left their children with severe physical disabilities.

At Leaders’ Questions this afternoon, Bacik said that the Irish State bares responsibility for the continued use of the drug after it was pulled from use in other European countries and called for a State apology, a compensation package and a healthcare package for survivors.

“In this state, even after international withdrawal, the drug continued to be prescribed for some time, causing severe harm to so many children,” Bacik told the Dáil.

While Bacik did acknowledge that a compensation package had been offered in 2009, she said that this did “not come near enough to meet the real cost of the harm caused”.

In response, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that he wanted to develop a “mediation approach” with the thalidomide survivors and said that he would be in touch with them in the next two weeks.

He said that he wanted to have the issue resolved “as quickly as we can”, but that there were potential issues around payments.

Martin said that he wanted to ensure that any payments made to thalidomide survivors from the Irish State were not subtracted from the payments currently made by the thalidomide foundation, saying that there was “legal clarity” being sought on the issue.

Bacik said that she would be bringing forward a motion to call on the Government to offer a “decent package” to thalidomide survivors, saying that she hoped to receive cross-party support.

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Tadgh McNally

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