Irish victims of the 1950s pregnancy drug Thalidomide say they deserve more than the $80,000 offered by the Department of Health. Thalidomide was used to suppress morning sickness in pregnant mothers between 1957 and 1961.
It transpired that Thalidomide caused irreversible birth defects in newborn babies. Minister of Health, Mary Harney, said she met the survivor groups and she hoped that they would see the compensation package as a fair deal. Irish Thalidomide Association spokeswoman Fionnola Cassidy said she was disappointed that the $2.6million compensation package was nonnegotiable.
“I think there is nobody who would be able to accept that this is a fair and equitable agreement now after 35 years,” said Cassidy. “It does not give us a provision for the future.
A once off payment of $80,000 will be given to victims and an annual $5,000 payment will be given to those worst affected by the deformities.
A Health Service Executive manager will assess the severity of deformities in a victim and may award special care packages.
“The Government’s decision to provide additional financial assistance and other services reflects our sympathy for the 32 survivors and their families, whose lives have been so severely affected by this tragedy. The Government pays tribute to them,” said Minister Harney.
"We hope that they will accept the offer of additional financial assistance and supports as a fair and compassionate measure."
However, Cassidy said that the government has not being forthcoming with an apology and said it may be an admission of liability if they were to apologize, which could result in further claims.
“The Irish state allowed the Thalidomide drug to remain on the market for a further seven months after it was advised that it was causing birth defects,” said Cassidy.