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Thalidomide survivors hit out at Kenny

The TAOISEACH Enda Kenny was accused yesterday of reneging on a commitment to thalidomide survivors.

There are 32 Irish people still alive from the 10,000 babies born worldwide with partial, malformed or no limbs in the Fifties and Sixties after their mothers took a morning sickness drug made by German company Gruenthal.

The Irish Thalidomide Association (ITA) claimed: "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, put off today what can be paid tomorrow. Such a response is not appropriate where the Government has been party to an unjust tragedy," they said.

Dr Austin O'Carroll said there had been a half-hour meeting with the Government last year but since then there was limited communication.

"Both the Fine Gael and Labour parties included a commitment to achieve that objective as part of their manifestoes prior to the general election. More recently, the current Programme for Government includes such a commitment. Thalidomide survivors expected that a pro-active and humane governmental approach to resolving the healthcare and compensation issue for them would then occur.

"But the Taoiseach's response is to renege upon his previous commitments. Earlier this year he enacted specific legislation, 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 actions. 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 it's citizens, " the group said.

Sunday Independent