Blood scandal victim screams in disgust at Dáil debate

IT all got too much for one victim of the blood contamination scandal when the Dáil resumed its debate on the Lindsay Tribunal report yesterday.

Just moments before the haemophiliac's verbal outburst from the public gallery, the chamber had been packed for the debate on order of business.

The man's hurt and disgust exploded when less than 10 politicians stayed to hear the discussion on the report into the affair.

He lost control of his emotions when Fine Gael's Michael Ring said that those who caused his infection should be behind bars and not walking free.

The man initially applauded the Mayo politician. But then he shouted out that the order of business seemed more important to TDs than the investigation into a product that destroyed his life.

Tears flowed down his face as he looked down at the chamber that would decide the fate of a flawed report that had already left him wondering if the State really cared at all.

He ended up being cautioned by an usher who warned him that he would be ejected from the gallery if there was a repeat performance.

Newly-appointed administrator of the Irish Haemophilia Society, Margaret Dunne said the man was one of about 20 victims and relatives who sat in the public gallery for the debate.

"I think he just could not handle himself. Everything had built up inside of him. There was the stress caused by having to wait three years for the report and the disappointment when it did come out because it did not hold anyone responsible.

"It all became too much for him. It was just a spontaneous gesture."

Bernard Smullen from Kildare, who contracted hepatitis C from a contaminated blood product sometime in the 1980s, said he could understand how the man became so upset.

"I am familiar with Dáil procedures so it did not come as a shock to me at the start of the debate when almost everyone, bar seven or eight, got up and left the chamber."

He described the Lindsay Tribunal report as "polite" it did not point the finger at anyone and did not tackle the international pharmaceutical firms that supplied the infected products.

He was happy with the way the debate had resumed, with some intelligent contributions after last month's unseemly row between the Labour Party and the independent grouping of Sinn Féin, Greens and other TDs.

"The inquiry has taken its toll on people trying to deal with awfulness of HIV and/or hepatitis C who had hoped something would be done once the report had been published."

Bernard, a 54-year-old father-of-five grown-up children, suffers from a mild form of haemophilia that sometimes requires treatment.

Unfortunately, he was given a contaminated blood product when he was involved in a road traffic accident.

Bernard said he was glad when hepatitis C was eventually diagnosed in 1992. It explained his erratic behaviour that had made him impossible to live with.

"From that point of view it was a relief to know that it was not my personality that was the problem.

"It took a huge toll on my relationship with my wife and children. It got to a stage where they would not stay in a room with me."

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