Spare us court fight for funds, says Thalidomide group
IRISH survivors of the Thalidomide scandal, who are to begin a legal fight for compensation, appealed to the Government yesterday to spare them the stressful ordeal of going to court.
The 32 men and women, whose pregnant mothers took the Thalidomide "wonder drug" to cure morning sickness and insomnia in the 1960s, suffered severe deformities and shortened limbs in many cases.
They announced yesterday that they would lodge claims in the court after the failure of the Government to live up to a pre-election promise on compensation.
Maggie Woods, chairwoman of the Irish Thalidomide Association, said they would each lodge their case with the injuries board and then proceed with claims in the High Court.
However, Ms Woods, who celebrated her 50th birthday yesterday, is suffering deteriorating health like many other survivors as a result of the stress on her shortened limbs over the decades.
"The Government weaseled out of its commitments but it is not too late to do the right thing," she said.
Health Minister James Reilly, who championed the cause of the survivors while he was in opposition, said last night he was willing to consider a financial "gesture of goodwill" and had made this known to the group during discussions.
His key objective was to look after their health and personal needs and they had been offered specialist assessment.
However, the State does not have any legal liability.
Finola Cassidy, spokeswoman for the association, said they were due adequate compensation, not a "gesture".
In the 1970s, their parents received lump sums of between £6,600 and £21,300 as well as a monthly allowance of between £31.75 and £95.
"We have received advice that there are significant legal concerns associated with the protection of Thalidomide children's rights in the original 1975 compensation arrangement in relation to fairness, appropriateness and adequacy of funds. The offer was never approved or ruled by the High Court," she said.