Irish Thalidomide Association

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Can we trust Taoiseach Enda Kenny to deliver on his commitments? No!

Posted on September 8, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Can we trust Taoiseach Enda Kenny to deliver on his commitments?

The Irish Thalidomide Association says NO !


"Showleadership, rather than facing us with a legion of lawyers"


Remember this Politician is clearly not to be trusted.

The Irish Thalidomide Association (ITA) is calling on the Taoiseach to deliver on his promises.


The German philosopher Nietzsche said, “One must have a good memory to be able to keep the promisesone makes”.


We call upon the Taoiseach to remember his promises delivered rather than feign amnesia.


Our treatment by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health and Children has been so lacking in sincerity that they have heaped insult upon injury. In their programme for government both Fine Gael and Labour promised to engage with the ITA regarding compensation for survivors of Thalidomide. To date no constructive government efforts have occurred. Delay for financial purpose is now the Taoiseach's order of the day to his Ministerial troops i.e. put off today what can be paid tomorrow. Such a response is not appropriate where the Government has been party to an unjust tragedy.


Prior to the last Irish general election, the Taoiseach met with the Irish Thalidomide Association where he clearly indicated that the Thalidomide issue should be sorted. Both the Fine Gael and Labour parties included a commitment to achieve that objective as part of their manifestos prior to the general election. More recently, the current Programme for Government includes such a commitment.Thalidomide survivors expected that a proactive and humane governmental approach to resolving the healthcare and compensation issue for them would then occur.


The Taoiseach's response is to renege upon his previous commitments. Earlier this year he enacted specific legislation (see below), signed by him rather than by any Minister, to enable and facilitate the State Claims Agency to oppose Thalidomide survivors in their quest for justice. Previously the State Claims agency would have had no role in any such pharmaceutical product related court action.

This shows clear intent on the part of the Taoiseach to utilise the full armoury of the State to oppose the interests of Thalidomide survivors or its citizens.


We should not have to fight the Irish State for justice in the Irish courts. Taoiseach Kenny’s signing of this legislative provision to expand the remit of the State Claims Agency to deal with our claims is an appalling breach of faith and failure to honour promises delivered by him.

Thalidomide was made by the German pharmaceutical giant Grunenthal and was approved for use in Ireland. The drug caused more than 10,000 babies to be born with partial, malformed or no limbs in the 1950s and 1960s. In Ireland there are 32 survivors. Ireland is more at fault than other countries for the Thalidomide tragedy as it failed to take the drug off the shelves for almost a year after all other countries had withdrawn the drug. This was due to moral sensitivities that existed in the Irish State at the time.


Last Saturday, after a 50 year wait Grunenthal issued a meaningless ‘apology’ that expressed regret for the awful consequences of the drug on pregnant mothers and thalidomide survivors while saying they were not at fault.


The ITA is calling on the Taoiseach/government to appropriately utilise the levers of government to ensure our healthcare requirements are met and to discharge fair and equitable compensation for our pain, suffering and loss of quality of life.


TheTaoiseach is expected to show national leadership. The Irish electorate places such an obligation upon his shoulders. We ask him to show leadership, and rather than facing us with a legion of lawyers he should ensure we avoid potential protracted court actions by ensuring that Thalidomide survivor requirements are met during our lifetimes. He should remember Thalidomide survivors are weak and vulnerable members of society who face medical complications and significant life expectancy issues


As Chemie Grunenthal last week belatedly and begrudgingly apologised for the awful consequences that occurred, such an apology should be utilised by the Taoiseach on behalf of the Irish State in these economic stringent times to open negotiations with Grunenthal for the purposes of seeking reimbursement for aproportion of the costs incurred in healthcare costs over a period of 50 years to date, the increasing future health care costs that will be required by Thalidomide survivors and the future thalidomide survivor compensation requirements. This would be a more appropriate and humane response by theTaoiseach. It would also be a better use of state entities for the purposes of addressing the needs and requirements of the State's injured citizens etc.Lastly, it would be a much more cost appropriate response.

Thalidomide survivors do not want anything other than what we were legitimately entitled too. Whave never been a burden on the Irish State as we have endeavoured to be self sufficient to date until our health has failed us. We have survived for in the region of 50 years using our own ingenuity and perseverance to do so against all the expected odds. It should be remembered that we hold Ireland responsiblefor our injuries in that:

  1.  Firstly, there was no effective pharmaceutical licensing system to protect us as unborn children.
  2. Secondly, the Irish State failed to withdraw the Thalidomide drug after the international withdrawal date had occurred;
  3. Thirdly, to cap it all, the Irish State failed to protect the thalidomide children from an unfair financial arrangement by not referring it for ruling by the High Court. The State would have been aware of its potential legal culpability when it avoided such a referral to the High Court and in doing this cheated its own children of justice.  

As we reach 50th birthdays, our health is deteriorating and more and more health issues are emerging. It now looks like we will spend the remainder of our years fighting the Irish state for justice in the light of the Taoiseach's breach of promise.That is regretful in the extreme as it is a waste of that most valuable commodity which is life itself.

 In the light of the Grunenthal apology, the Taoiseach should deliver on the promise to compensate us, seek to make the resolution cost effective by obtaining reimbursement from Grunenthal. It should be remembered that Grunenthal is a multi billion euro company with a virtually debt free balance sheet where it is well able to discharge its financial obligations


In conclusion, Taoiseach Kenny, please focuses the armoury of the Irish State upon the real target rather than the States most vulnerable citizens, as it’s a better and more appropriate use of Irish State resources. For once, let the State take the correct course this time!


To other Irish citizens, the ITA delivers the advice, that our situation couldvery easily be your situation tomorrow, so a more humane and fair response is what should be delivered by a mature society to such plights rather than theTaoiseach's adversarial approach which ironically in this instance is not only the least humane but also the least financially effective and the most blinkered.

Finola Cassidy

Spokesperson & Survivor

Irish Thalidomide Association

T: 086-9151235






22 Lea Road, Sandymount, Dublin 4 * Ph:2839877/086-9151235

Committee: Maggie Woods-Chairperson, FinolaCassidy-Secretary-Spokesperson

 Dr. AustinO’Carroll-Spokesperson, John Stack-Campaign Organiser


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