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Most survivors of brutal birth op to get €100,000

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Judge Maureen Harding Clark is administering the scheme

Judge Maureen Harding Clark is administering the scheme

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Judge Maureen Harding Clark is administering the scheme

Most of the 350 survivors of a barbaric birth operation who choose to opt for the Government's no-fault redress scheme are expected to receive compensation of €100,000.

Former High Court judge Maureen Harding Clark, who has been appointed to decide on each woman's level of redress, said just another 30 or 40 would qualify for the highest payout of €150,000 having had a symphysiotomy after a Caesarean section.

A handful of women who suffered after undergoing a pubiotomy, involving the surgical separation of the pubic bone, may also get the highest sum.

The remainder of around 350 women who had the operation, who did not suffer pain after three years, and received proper care, will get €50,000, she added.

The scheme, the details of which will not be published until Monday, has received a mixed reaction from support groups.

Survivors of Symphysiotomy (SOS) described it as "utterly unjust" and said it amounted to putting a "gun to the head of survivors". Many of the women are now elderly and some have died.

But Patient Focus has urged its members to avail of the scheme. Symphysiotomy was a brutal birth procedure which widened the pelvis and left many women with life-long disabilities.

Judge Clark said yesterday: "I hope it will bring closure. I know the women have been agitating for redress for a long time."

She said around 150 have instituted legal proceedings. If they accept the offer of redress they must drop this action with a contribution of between €3,000 to €6,000 depending on how far it progressed.

Solicitors who advise the women availing of the redress scheme will get €5,000. Women who need to secure medical reports from specialists will also receive financial aid and the redress scheme will be advised by an obstetrician.

The survivors will be given a month to apply for the scheme although this may be extended for another four weeks in certain circumstances. When they are made an offer they will be given 21 days to accept or reject it. "It is a fair time limit in my view," she added.

Marie O' Connor, chairwoman of SOS, said it was clear the State was "heading off litigation now at the steps of the High Court." The scheme's payouts would be only 20-40pc of court awards.

She stressed: "Our advice to any woman is to heed the advice of their legal advisers."

She accused the State of protecting the doctors and pointed to the UN Human Rights Committee's opinion that such as scheme offers no accountability.

Irish Independent