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I WRITE in the earnest hope that a grave injustice in this state will soon be fully acknowledged and put right.
I support the cause of a group of deeply committed Irish citizens who have been wronged in a shameful way — the 32 survivors of thalidomide.
This drug caused enormous suffering, permanent disability and has even contributed to deaths.
It is now more than four decades since this awful tragedy occurred and despite some advances in the package of measures announced by the Minister for Health, Mary Harney, last April, there is still much unfinished business.
I was deeply moved by Mary Duffy, an artist living in Co Wicklow, who wrote in May that she is “conflicted by a reluctance to ask for what I need because I can’t bear the pain of being refused”. Mary Duffy said of the Government offer of 2 million in compensation for survivors of thalidomide that it “opens a deep wound and sticks the knife in”.
The time has long since come for the state to do its part in healing those wounds.
As a public representative I feel a strong sense of duty to continue to shine a light on this awful injustice. The members of the Irish Thalidomide Association are truly remarkable people. They have undertaken the burden of a campaign of justice they should have been spared. This continues today
because of the inadequate response of the state.
There is support, in the Seanad and Dáil, for the campaign of the thalidomide survivors, but this support must now be met with action. The survivors are owed an apology, appropriate compensation and access to the legal documents of the time.
The survivors did not get adequate support as children and they remain in need today.
This is an issue that can and must be put right. I know the wrong done cannot be undone, but justice can and must be achieved.
Senator Mary White
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children
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