Symphysiotomy plan - Avoiding a whitewash

Survivors of symphysiotomy yesterday roundly rejected the Government’s offer of a €34m redress scheme as a blatant attempt to whitewash the wrongs done to them. They feel that the scheme does not amount to a proper apology.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny had described as “barbaric” the symphysiotomy procedures that took place between 1940 and 1984. The funds provided by the Government are undoubtedly an admission that the whole thing was wrong. The redress scheme is clearly designed to avoid the need for costly litigation.

Some 350 survivors are still alive. Around 100 women will get €50,000 each, while some 240 — who suffered more complex injuries — will get €100,000 each. The other 10 women, who had the procedure done after a caesarean section, are to receive €150,000.

Nobody would be held responsible, but most of those responsible are probably already dead. The scheme undoubtedly simplifies the process by eliminating the need for lawyers. But the general public will be paying for this.

If survivors think the amount being offered is unfair, they can take their chances in the courts. If the courts find that the offer was fair, the public should not be expected to fund the legal costs.

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