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Survivors of thalidomide have welcomed u-turn by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly in his decision to meet them

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Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. Picture by Gareth Chaney/Collins

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. Picture by Gareth Chaney/Collins

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. Picture by Gareth Chaney/Collins

Survivors of thalidomide have welcomed the u-turn by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly in his decision to meet them.

The Irish Thalidomide Association has been long pressing for a meeting but they were turned down because of legal proceedings arising out of the use of the drug here in pregnant women in the late 50s and early 60s leading to children being born with various disabilities including shortened limbs, no limbs or damage to hearing and eyesight.

The turnaround came for the group of about forty survivors after a parliamentary question from Sinn Fein TD Aengus O Snodaigh who asked the minister about such a meeting.

In his response Mr Donnelly, said the management of litigation by some survivors has been delegated to the State Claims Agency.

He said it is being managed by a judge of the High Court and is currently at the discovery stage.

He had been advised it would not be appropriate to meet survivors because of the action.

However, he said he was anxious to assure survivors of the Government’s “ongoing commitment to provide them with the necessary supports to meet their related needs.

“I have directed my office to set up a meeting with survivors, strictly without prejudice to ongoing litigation.”

He will listen to their needs and talk to them about the work underway to provide health and social supports “on an ex-gratia basis “ and on a statutory footing as committed to by the Government,

Survivors here want the Government to apologise for the delay in State authorities here withdrawing the drug, given to pregnant women for morning sickness, earlier in the early 1960s.

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The disabilities which survivors suffered has led to a worsening of their state of health and mobility now they are in their late 50s and 60s.


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