Blood transfusion service chief in favour of openness

THE chairman of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) said he is in favour of opening all files to the public.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Marian Finucane show yesterday, Michael McLoone said while he respected the board’s right to protect professional reputations, he believed in openness.

“My personal philosophy is just to open all files. I’m a great believer that we work in a glass bowl in the public service and just put it on the table. But I respect the right of the board as a corporate body to make decisions.”

Mr McLoone was referring to the IBTS decision in February last year not to waive privilege over documents relating to financial settlements in 1991 with HIV-infected victims of contaminated blood products. As a result more than 600 documents were not

released. Mr McLoone was not chairman at the time. However, he said if the issue of releasing files was raised again, his advice to the board would be to act in a transparent manner.

Margaret Dunne, administrator for the Irish Haemophiliac Society (IHS), said she welcomed Mr McLoone’s approach, but it was too little too late.

“The time for that was when the Lindsey Tribunal was underway. If we had got those files it might have meant that we also got a stronger report at the end of it. The fact that they weren’t released only leads us to believe that the IBTS has something to hide.”

The tribunal was to examine how more than 260 haemophiliacs were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C (79 have died).

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