More than €16.3m was paid out in compensation last year to claimants who were infected with Hepatitis C and HIV through contaminated blood products more than two decades ago and their relatives.
The Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation Tribunal has now paid out almost €673m in compensation since its establishment in 1995, together with almost €149m in payments from a reparation fund.
Additional compensation of €84.3m has been awarded to date by the High Court on appeal.
A sum of €158.6m for related legal costs has also been paid out over the past two decades, including €4.6m in 2013, according to the tribunal’s latest annual report.
The tribunal was established to compensate people infected with Hepatitis C as a result of being administered with contaminated Anti D human immunoglobin manufactured by the Blood Transfusion Service Board between 1970 and 1994.
The controversy led to the establishment of the Finlay Tribunal which proved highly critical of the BTSB.
The scandal also caused major political difficulty for Fine Gael’s Michael Noonan who was minister for health at the time.
The tribunal’s remit was expanded in 2002 to award compensation to individuals who contracted HIV from certain blood products.
It had received 4,655 claims by the end of 2013.
The average award made by the tribunal last year was just under €195,000. The awards ranged from €3,629 to more than €1.8m.
Tribunal chairperson, Karen O’Driscoll SC, said 95 new claims had been received during the course of last year. Over the same period, it paid awards in 77 cases with approximately 625 claims still awaiting adjudication.
Claims are dealt with by way of an in camera oral hearing before at least two members of the tribunal or by an offer of settlement.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar recently said he had no plans to introduce legislation to restrict the tribunal’s powers to make awards to relatives of those infected. Such a proposal had been made by one of his predecessors, former Progressive Democrats leader, Mary Harney.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved