'Ireland is no country to have a disabled child,' says mother after 17-year battle for son's care

Assumpta Corry broke down in tears as she told how the family have struggled to care for Ben who also cannot speak
'Ireland is no country to have a disabled child,' says mother after 17-year battle for son's care

Assumpta Corry asked to speak to the judge as her 17-year-old son Ben Corry settled an action against the HSE over the circumstances of his birth at Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. Picture: Collins Courts

"Ireland is no country to have a disabled child." 

These are the words of a mother who told a High Court judge she and her family has had to fight for even the most basic essentials for her son who has autism, ADHD, cognitive delay and behavioural issues.

Assumpta Corry broke down as she told Mr Justice Paul Coffey how for the last 17 years her family has struggled and a settlement of an action over the circumstances of her son Ben’s birth with a €4 million payout will mean her son can now get the care he needs.

The woman asked to speak to the judge as her 17-year-old son Ben Corry settled an action against the HSE over the circumstances of his birth at Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. 

The settlement which includes the €4 million interim pay-out for the next five years is without admission of liability. When the case comes back before the courts in five years’ time, Mr Justice Paul Coffey was told any assessment will be based on a 50% basis.

Ben’s counsel, Dr John O’Mahony SC with Doireann O’Mahony BL instructed by Vincent Toher solicitors, told the court it was their case that during the delivery Ben was gasping for oxygen and he inhaled meconium which counsel said is a highly toxic substance.

'Challenging'

His mother, he said, thought her baby was dead as he looked flat and grey on delivery. Ben, counsel said, is an extraordinary child but the windows and doors at home have to be locked for his own safety. He said the “dedication of his parents is out of this world.” 

Counsel said it was one of the most challenging cases he had ever come across. Ms Corry broke down in tears as she told how the family have struggled to care for Ben who also cannot speak.

She said:

I have waited for 17 years for him to say Mum and Dad but he can’t say it.

She said it could not have been made harder for the family. She said she knew her son was not reaching his milestones and development and said she was told she should not compare a boy’s development to a girl’s development.

“I felt I was ignored, I knew something was wrong,” she said. ”I would die for my child but you have to fight so hard for the most basic supplies. We got no respite, nothing.” 

Her son, she said, has had to live “like a prisoner in his own house” as they have to keep the windows and doors locked.

“I would do anything for him. We are the only thing he has. We love Ben, he is our flesh and blood,” she told the judge, adding: 

I feel so sorry for anybody who has a disabled child in this country. 

Ms Corry said it is only when her legal team came on board that she felt that she was being heard.

Ben Corry (17) of Carn, Moyleen, Loughrea, Co. Galway, had through his mother Assumpta Corry sued the HSE over the circumstances of his birth at Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, on September 8, 2005.

It was claimed the baby should have been delivered by Caesarean section but towards the end of labour, it was alleged the cord was intermittently compressed causing the baby hypoxia and a reflex gasping in the baby which allegedly drew meconium deep into his lungs.

The labour, it was claimed, was allegedly incompetently managed and it was also claimed there was an alleged failure to intervene and to proceed to a Caesarean section. The baby, it was claimed, was allegedly exposed to an unnecessarily prolonged and severe period of birth asphyxia.

The claims were denied. Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it was a very sad tragic case and he praised the parents for what they have done for their son.

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