Irish Thalidomide Association

changing, challenging and facing the future

Press Room

The Irish Thalidomide Association questions original financial arrangement with the Irish State.

Posted on December 27, 2009 at 10:56 AM

Finola Cassidy

Irish Thalidomide Association,

22 Lea Road, Sandymount,

Dublin 4 

Phone:+353 1 2839877  and +353869151235



December 20, 2009

The Irish Thalidomide Association (ITA) had embarked upon discussions with the present Government over the past two years relating to the justice and fairness of the original 1970s Thalidomide financial arrangement with the Irish State.  


These discussions with Government have failed to progress in a constructive and effective manner although the Minister for Health & Children had indicated that a comprehensive review would occur.  


As a consequence of such lack of progress the Irish Thalidomide Association will be bringing its campaign for fair and equitable treatment to a new more heightened level to ensure appropriate results for its members.


Today we announce the commencement of our Campaign entitled “Justice for Thalidomide Survivors”. We call upon Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., An Taoiseach to immediately address our concerns.


It should be remembered that Thalidomide was a drug that was licensed by the IrishState to be prescribed to pregnant mothers to minimise the effects of morning sickness and insomnia during pregnancy.  The drug was never licensed bythe United States Federal Drugs Agency (FDA).


The drug had catastrophic consequences with 32 Irish children born with birth deformities including no limbs or shortened limbs etc.


Eventually, in the early 1970s, the Irish State entered into an arrangement which resulted in thalidomide children receiving a relatively miniscule lump sum together with a further restricted social welfare entitlement. The Irish State never admitted any responsibility for the events that occurred. To this day, the Irish Statel refuses access to documentation from this period relating to the events that occurred around the Thalidomide health catastrophe in Ireland.  




The original Thalidomide arrangement was delivered on a “take it or leave it basis”. It was constructed by the Irish State with the perception that many of the children concerned would not survive into adulthood. Tragically, the effects of misuse and overuse of deformed limbs and the added effects of the ageing process has resulted in a major reduction in mobility and a seriousincrease in pain levels for Thalidomide survivors. Due to such additional adverse physical consequences, the Irish Thalidomide Association now urge the Government as a priority to take remedial action to correct the injustices of the past by entering into a meaningful and effective dialogue process ratherthan avoiding its obligations.  


We welcome the re-adjustment upwards of the UK Thalidomide package which will benefit our fellow UK Thalidomide survivors in that jurisdiction.  Crucially, the UK Thalidomide Trust indicates that the UK Government  will acknowledge that a wrong occurred,  have admitted responsibility for sucha wrong by providing compensation and intend delivering a sincere apology for the catastrophic consequences that occurred.


In such an apology, which we understand could be delivered by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the UK Government will express its “sincere regret and deep sympathy for the injuries and suffering endured by Thalidomide victims and their families”


In Ireland, the government procrastinates, fails to acknowledge in an open and transparent manner the wrong that occurred and neglect to furnish any apology for the events that occurred.  We believe that this situation now requires to be resolved with a belated, yet proactive approach, by the Irish Government.


Our feelings of injustice are further exacerbated by virtue that the financial provision delivered to UK thalidomide survivors in advance of the proposed UK settlement of this week had already far exceeded the original Irish Thalidomide arrangement.


We call upon An Taoiseach Brian Cowen TD to meet with us for the purposes of commencing an effective dialogue process to rectify the mistakes of the past. 



 Also, in advance of such a meeting, we call upon the Taoiseach to admit that a wrong occurred to thalidomide survivors, that the Irish State were responsible for such a wrong by licensing the Thalidomide drug for pregnant mothers and also as a consequence to furnish an unreserved apology to Thalidomide Survivors onbehalf of the Citizens of Ireland in respect of the physical, emotional andpersonal suffering endured by Thalidomide Survivors and their families.


Almost50 years has elapsed and surely it is time that Justice is now achieved.



MaggieWoods, Chairperson.

FinolaCassidy, Spokesperson/ Secretary

AustinO’Carroll, Spokesperson





 “We expected to find evidence of carelessness by the pharmaceutical industry.  We did.  What astonished us, however, was the evidence we found of neglect by the Irish State.”

Olivia O’Leary.


“Theydidn’t want to be heroes or victims. They just wanted to be themselves. They achieved the extraordinary: they became ordinary people withordinary, if difficult, lives”

Terry Prone.


“Many Irish babies did not survive birth or live past the first year of theirlives…it is for these and their parents that we also seek for Brian Cowen to dothe right thing”.

Finola Cassidy, ITA Secretary/Spokesperson


“Throughout the negotiations everyone we have encountered has emphasised that they do not accept responsibility for the thalidomide disaster. It is like entering a children’s classroom and been greeted with a chorus of "it's not our fault".

Austin O’Carroll, ITA Spokesperson


 “Arising from the UK Governments humane response, justice must be done by way of an immediate acknowledgement of the wrong inflicted on thalidomide survivors inIreland together with the delivery of an appropriate apology”.

Maggie Woods,Chairperson ITA.

Finola Cassidy

Irish Thalidomide Association,


22 Lea Road, Sandymount,

Dublin 4 



Phone:+353 1 2839877  and +353869151235









Categories: None