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Can we trust Taoiseach Enda Kenny to deliver on his commitments? No!

Posted on September 8, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Can we trust Taoiseach Enda Kenny to deliver on his commitments?

The Irish Thalidomide Association says NO !


"Showleadership, rather than facing us with a legion of lawyers"


Remember this Politician is clearly not to be trusted.

The Irish Thalidomide Association (ITA) is calling on the Taoiseach to deliver on his promises.


The German philosopher Nietzsche said, “One must have a good memory to be able to keep the promisesone makes”.


We call upon the Taoiseach to remember his promises delivered rather than feign amnesia.


Our treatment by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health and Children has been so lacking in sincerity that they have heaped insult upon injury. In their programme for government both Fine Gael and Labour promised to engage with the ITA regarding compensation for survivors of Thalidomide. To date no constructive government efforts have occurred. Delay for financial purpose is now the Taoiseach's order of the day to his Ministerial troops i.e. put off today what can be paid tomorrow. Such a response is not appropriate where the Government has been party to an unjust tragedy.


Prior to the last Irish general election, the Taoiseach met with the Irish Thalidomide Association where he clearly indicated that the Thalidomide issue should be sorted. Both the Fine Gael and Labour parties included a commitment to achieve that objective as part of their manifestos prior to the general election. More recently, the current Programme for Government includes such a commitment.Thalidomide survivors expected that a proactive and humane governmental approach to resolving the healthcare and compensation issue for them would then occur.


The Taoiseach's response is to renege upon his previous commitments. Earlier this year he enacted specific legislation (see below), signed by him rather than by any Minister, to enable and facilitate the State Claims Agency to oppose Thalidomide survivors in their quest for justice. Previously the State Claims agency would have had no role in any such pharmaceutical product related court action.

This shows clear intent on the part of the Taoiseach to utilise the full armoury of the State to oppose the interests of Thalidomide survivors or its citizens.


We should not have to fight the Irish State for justice in the Irish courts. Taoiseach Kenny’s signing of this legislative provision to expand the remit of the State Claims Agency to deal with our claims is an appalling breach of faith and failure to honour promises delivered by him.

Thalidomide was made by the German pharmaceutical giant Grunenthal and was approved for use in Ireland. The drug caused more than 10,000 babies to be born with partial, malformed or no limbs in the 1950s and 1960s. In Ireland there are 32 survivors. Ireland is more at fault than other countries for the Thalidomide tragedy as it failed to take the drug off the shelves for almost a year after all other countries had withdrawn the drug. This was due to moral sensitivities that existed in the Irish State at the time.


Last Saturday, after a 50 year wait Grunenthal issued a meaningless ‘apology’ that expressed regret for the awful consequences of the drug on pregnant mothers and thalidomide survivors while saying they were not at fault.


The ITA is calling on the Taoiseach/government to appropriately utilise the levers of government to ensure our healthcare requirements are met and to discharge fair and equitable compensation for our pain, suffering and loss of quality of life.


TheTaoiseach is expected to show national leadership. The Irish electorate places such an obligation upon his shoulders. We ask him to show leadership, and rather than facing us with a legion of lawyers he should ensure we avoid potential protracted court actions by ensuring that Thalidomide survivor requirements are met during our lifetimes. He should remember Thalidomide survivors are weak and vulnerable members of society who face medical complications and significant life expectancy issues


As Chemie Grunenthal last week belatedly and begrudgingly apologised for the awful consequences that occurred, such an apology should be utilised by the Taoiseach on behalf of the Irish State in these economic stringent times to open negotiations with Grunenthal for the purposes of seeking reimbursement for aproportion of the costs incurred in healthcare costs over a period of 50 years to date, the increasing future health care costs that will be required by Thalidomide survivors and the future thalidomide survivor compensation requirements. This would be a more appropriate and humane response by theTaoiseach. It would also be a better use of state entities for the purposes of addressing the needs and requirements of the State's injured citizens etc.Lastly, it would be a much more cost appropriate response.

Thalidomide survivors do not want anything other than what we were legitimately entitled too. Whave never been a burden on the Irish State as we have endeavoured to be self sufficient to date until our health has failed us. We have survived for in the region of 50 years using our own ingenuity and perseverance to do so against all the expected odds. It should be remembered that we hold Ireland responsiblefor our injuries in that:

  1.  Firstly, there was no effective pharmaceutical licensing system to protect us as unborn children.
  2. Secondly, the Irish State failed to withdraw the Thalidomide drug after the international withdrawal date had occurred;
  3. Thirdly, to cap it all, the Irish State failed to protect the thalidomide children from an unfair financial arrangement by not referring it for ruling by the High Court. The State would have been aware of its potential legal culpability when it avoided such a referral to the High Court and in doing this cheated its own children of justice.  

As we reach 50th birthdays, our health is deteriorating and more and more health issues are emerging. It now looks like we will spend the remainder of our years fighting the Irish state for justice in the light of the Taoiseach's breach of promise.That is regretful in the extreme as it is a waste of that most valuable commodity which is life itself.

 In the light of the Grunenthal apology, the Taoiseach should deliver on the promise to compensate us, seek to make the resolution cost effective by obtaining reimbursement from Grunenthal. It should be remembered that Grunenthal is a multi billion euro company with a virtually debt free balance sheet where it is well able to discharge its financial obligations


In conclusion, Taoiseach Kenny, please focuses the armoury of the Irish State upon the real target rather than the States most vulnerable citizens, as it’s a better and more appropriate use of Irish State resources. For once, let the State take the correct course this time!


To other Irish citizens, the ITA delivers the advice, that our situation couldvery easily be your situation tomorrow, so a more humane and fair response is what should be delivered by a mature society to such plights rather than theTaoiseach's adversarial approach which ironically in this instance is not only the least humane but also the least financially effective and the most blinkered.

Finola Cassidy

Spokesperson & Survivor

Irish Thalidomide Association

T: 086-9151235






22 Lea Road, Sandymount, Dublin 4 * Ph:2839877/086-9151235

Committee: Maggie Woods-Chairperson, FinolaCassidy-Secretary-Spokesperson

 Dr. AustinO’Carroll-Spokesperson, John Stack-Campaign Organiser


Irish Thalidomide Association commence legal actions against the Irish State

Posted on July 9, 2012 at 8:00 AM



1.The Irish Thalidomide Association announces that it is now engaged in a political campaign against the present Government as the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the Tainaiste Eamonn Gilmore and the Minister for Health & Children Dr.James Reilly have reneged from their individual commitments delivered to theIrish Thalidomide Association members by weaselling out of their commitments ascontained in the programme for government. All discussions between the ITA andgovernment have now ceased.


2. The ITA members have now reached or are approaching their 50th birthdays where the State has neglected to fulfil its promised obligations to ensure thatboth recompense and health care requirements of our members are addressed. Thisintolerable failure cannot be allowed to continue by the ITA as its membershealth problems are continuously deteriorating.


3. This week our members start their individual legal actions against the Stateby lodging their applications with the Injuries Board where it is expected thatauthorisations will promptly issue to allow these actions proceed with all duehaste before the Courts.


4. The ITA has received legal advice that there are significant legal concern sassociated with the protection of thalidomide children's rights in the original1975 compensation arrangement relating to fairness, appropriateness and adequacy of funds advanced at that time by the Irish State as the offer was never approved or ruled by the High Court. These issues amongst other issues will be addressed as part of this future litigation.


5. Our Chairperson Maggie Woods on her 50th Birthday starts this litigation process by lodging her injuries board application against the Irish State entities where she holds the Taoiseach, Tanaiste and Government responsible forthe present failures in the Irish States position which ironically occurs onthe day when she should be celebrating the huge achievement of surviving to 50 years young, as most of the ITA members were never expected to survive to achieve that milestone.

 6. Ironically, on today’s date Maggie reminds us "that the originalmiserly settlement offer delivered by the Irish State in 1975 was quantified onthe basis that the ITA members would not survive into adulthood, never mind seethe age of 50 years".

Also, in the intervening period, she says that "our members against all the odds have contributed towards Irish society where they have led independent lives but unfortunately in more recent years, our members have seen their health decline with cardiac problems, joint difficulties etc which have hitthem hard necessitating an urgent and fair response from this government which has not been forthcoming ". She implores the government even at the eleventh hour to do the right thing by her members.


7. Our chairperson Maggie Woods although small of stature is big on determination to bring Enda Kenny, Eamonn Gilmore and Dr Reilly down to size as they endeavour to weasel out of the terms of the programme for government commitment delivered to her members for the purposes of ensuring that justice can now belatedly be achieved, even if it occurs after 50 years!


8. The ITA committee is fully behind Maggie in her endeavours to achievejustice.  Dr. Austin O'Carroll ITA committee member said "Maggie maybe small of stature but she’s big on justice for our members where she won't allow the government to discriminate against them by weaselling out of the programme for government. They picked on the wrong lady when they endeavoured to take advantage of both Maggie andindeed our members as she will be like a lioness protecting her cubs as she strives for justice for our members"


9. In conclusion, Maggie indicates that "we have beaten the odds bysurviving to age 50, similarly we will beat the odds by winning our legal actions against the resources of the Irish state by sheer determination and grit on our part which has served us well to date"

John Stack

Campaign Organiser.


Interviews available

Finola Cassidy T: 086-9151235

Maggie Woods T: 087-8516102

Austin O’Carroll T: 087-2503643

John Stack T: 086-2159045


Irish Thalidomide Association recommends that their members reject the Government compensation offer

Posted on April 29, 2010 at 6:47 PM




Thursday 29th April 2010


“Irish Thalidomide Association recommends that their Members reject the Government’s compensation offer”




Interaction with State Claims Agency/ DOH Documents


Over eight months the Irish Thalidomide Association through its solicitors has been seeking to achieve access to the Department records associated with the Thalidomide Arrangement/ Settlement.  It should be noted that there was a refusal by the Minister for Health and Children to deliver access to such documentation.  Access was requiredfor the purposes of interacting with the State Claims Agency by way of submission to ensure that all relevant matters were addressed in relation tothe State Claims Agency’s report. It turned out that the State Claims Agency did not wish the involvement of the Irish Thalidomide Association to occur in the circumstances that merited a comprehensive review. 


The State Claims Agency interpreted their terms of reference in a narrow and restrictive manner. Also, the Minster for Health and Children refused access to the relevant documentation concerned.  On the date of delivery of the State Claims Agency report by the Minister for Healthand Children she indicated, for the first time, that she was requesting advice from the Attorney General as to whether such documentation should be released.


During the course of the meeting on Tuesday 27th April 2010, it was indicated directly to the Minister for Health and Children thatthe Irish Thalidomide Association required such documentation to be provided for the purposes of ascertaining as to whether the original Compensation Arrangement had been approved by the High Court.  In that regard, the Minister undertook to revert within aperiod, if at all possible, of 24 hours with such detail. 


It appears to the Irish Thalidomide Association, that its memberswho were then children, did not have the benefit or the legal entitlement to have such a settlement approved by the High Court for the purposes of protecting their position. 


As a matter of proper practice in the courts system in this jurisdiction, it has been the situation that for each and every type of personal injury claim where a child has been injured (under the age of eighteen, that the court must approve the settlement to protect that child from an inadequate or unfair settlement. In this instance, it is noteworthy that the Minister for Health and Children has stonewalled in correspondence, the Irish Thalidomide Association’s request for access to the relevant documentation.  Such a refusal has occurred in circumstances where it was clear that the Irish Thalidomide Association required the documentation to obtain detail in relation to the original settlement arrangement.   Also, access to the documentation was required for discussionwith the State Claims Agency i.e. to ensure parity if detail available to both sides. 


It now transpires that after the relevant report has been delivered for approval to the Cabinet, in circumstances where there is no input from the Irish Thalidomide Association, that a crucial issue was not disclosed.  In that regard, the Cabinet decision may be flawed, the victims may be in a situation where they were abused as children by virtue of the failure of the State to protect their rights.  The present Minister for Health and Children has at the very least condoned such a situation by virtue of her refusal to deliver access to such documentation.  It is interesting in the extreme, that it was only upon delivery of the relevant report, which was a fait accomplit in terms of what was on offer, that the Minister then said that the relevant documentation would be provided subject to the advice of the Attorney General. 


If it is a situation that these settlements were not ruled, then in those circumstances it would appear that there is no valid original Compensation Arrangement.  Also, the children concerned did not have the protection of the courts in circumstances where the State took advantage of both their parents and the children concerned.  The State have neglected to disclose detail as to whether such events occurred yet the investigations to date seem to suggest that same is the situation. 


The Minister for Health and Children is required now to clarify as to what occurred and respond in accordance with her undertaking having been apprised of the relevant detail. In addition, if she brought incorrect information to Cabinet incircumstances where no discussion occurred with the Irish Thalidomide Association, then it is incumbent upon her to rectify the situation.  In addition, if the State Claims Agency report is fundamentally flawed arising out of inaccuracies contained there in and lack of information or proper investigation occurring, then that report should be withdrawn.  For the mistakes of the past to be exacerbated by incompetence in the present is heaping insult upon injury in circumstances where the present government is conniving upon a conspiracy of concealment. 


In the circumstances that exist, certain IrishThalidomide Association members have instructed their Solicitors to institute proceedings against the State.  Also, it should be noted that proper practice and procedure has not occurred i.e. disclosure of such failures has not happened and the present Minister is still vacillating as to what to do.  It is time that an open and transparent approach was delivered by the present government.  As recently as Tuesday 26th April 2010 the government in its entirety connived in relation to concealment by way of its Cabinet decision. 


The Minister contended during the course of the meeting with the ITAthat a submission had been delivered on behalf of the Irish Thalidomide Association.  Such a perspective was yet again incorrect, in that Ciarán Breen, Director of the State Claims Agency confirmed in writing on the 23rd April 2010 that “we note that you have decided not to make a detailed submission, despite being requested to do so”.  Such a statement was made in the context of receiving a request at the 23rd hour when the report, it was apparent, was already written. 


The National DrugsAdvisory Board


The report as delivered to the Minister entirely ignores the regime that operated in advance of the establishment of the National Drugs Advisory Board.  In that regard, certain drugs were required to be licenced under the Therapeutic Substances Act 1932.  The rationale delivered by the Ministerfor the refusal to deliver and acknowledgement of wrong and/or an apology to Thalidomide survivors is that the Irish State had no responsibility for the injuries sustained.  The rationale for lack of responsibility was solely based upon there being no licencing procedure applicable at the relevant time.  This perception or advice is fundamentally flawed in that there were two reasons as to why the Irish State predominantly has a responsibility which are as follows:-


i.              An alternative statutory regimen applied i.e. under the Therapeutic Substances Act 1932 or at the veryleast should have applied.

ii.             The principles of negligenceapply in relation to the control of pharmaceutical products in this jurisdiction i.e. a case could have been advanced upon old fashioned negligence principles i.e. the Department of Health had a licencing section.

iii.           It now transpires that a situation occurred where Thalidomide was left on the market in Ireland long after it was withdrawn in other jurisdictions.  In that regard, certain Thalidomide survivors are the victims of that particular decision not to withdraw the product because it might cause concern to mothers who had already taken that product. The consequence of that decision was that the product remained in many mothers’ medicine cabinets to be used at a later date. 


In short, the State knew or ought to have known that the relevant pharmaceutical product being Thalidomide was unsafe for pregnant mothers and had not been tested in that regard i.e. there was a risk of peripheral neuritiscomplications.  


The Principles of Tort Law


The State Claims Agency report indicates that “it is inappropriate, in the Agency’s view, to apply current principles of Tort Law in the quantum of damages, general and special, to an event which took place in the years 1958 to 1962”. 


In essence, what is being said to the Thalidomide survivors is that the standards of the past are to apply to the circumstances of the present i.e. 2010.  That is patently wrong and most inappropriate and discriminatory towards one particular section of society.  That is all the more so for the reasons that are elaborated upon below.


Marked differences between Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation Scheme/

Thalidomide Survivors


The supposed marked differences that have been highlighted by theState Claims Agency are incorrect, flawed and without any foundation.  The said marked differences show a distinct lack of understanding of how the Hepatitis C and HIV CompensationScheme operates.  The following inaccuracies are contained in the State Claims Agency’s report:-


a.    The original non-statutoryHepatitis C Compensation Scheme was set up in exactly the same circumstances that exist today for Thalidomide survivors.  It was set up for the purposes of ensuring that persons received adequate or appropriate compensation in accordance with the Law of Tort, the Civil Liability Act 1961 as amended, Case Law etc. for the purposes of ensuring fair and equitable compensation.


b.    It is irrelevant as to whether any contribution is being made by a third party.  What we are dealing with here is the responsibility of the Irish State to provide compensation for citizens injured as a consequence of any act that occurred within this jurisdiction.


c.    The payment of damages both general and special, do utilise the ordinary principles of Tort Law but it is not necessary that liability is assumed on the part of any Tortfeasor.  In the circumstances of the Hepatitis C Compensation Scheme or what requires to be established is an injury i.e.Hepatitis C and an exposure to a particular pharmaceutical product being ablood product.  In this instance in relation to Thalidomide survivors, it is exactly the same situation, an injuryhas occurred as a  consequence of an exposure to a pharmaceutical product being a drug i.e. Thalidomide/ Softenonin this jurisdiction.


d.    The reference to a criminal prosecution in Aachen is most unfortunate and inappropriate.  The burden of proof in a criminal case in beyond all reasonable doubt and just because an action was unsuccessful on that particular burden of proof, it does not mean that a similar civil actionwould be unsuccessful as there is a lower burden of proof being the balance of probabilities.  What is interesting is that the consequence of that criminal prosecution resulted in a settlement offer in relation to a civil action or proceedings. 


e.    It is wrong for the StateClaims Agency to indicate that it is “an impossible exercise to compute a retrospective and prospective loss of earnings- special damages- calculation for each Thalidomide survivor as this would require a predictive assessment that but for the Thalidomide event the survivor would have achieved a particular career with a particular level of earnings”.  The author of such a statement is misconceived in the extreme in relation to the content of said statement.  The State Claims Agency, upon a daily basis, deals with claims most particularly in relation to medical negligence circumstances or Cerebral Palsy type situations where quantification of loss of earnings occurs in exactly that situation.  Also, the Compensation Tribunal which has been established to address the circumstances of infection of people/ children with HIV/Hepatitis C is required to undertake the exact same process.  Such a statement is misleading, unfounded and wrong in law.  It is an example of the partiality associated with the State Claims Agency’s positionin relation to the preparation of this report.  The inaccuracy associated with the foregoing statement is further indicated by virtue of a subsequent contradiction that indicates that such calculations can be undertaken but “one would have to have knowledge of the survivors’ parents and sibling’s careers and levels of earnings and attached certain assumptions to these” i.e. it would be difficult to do.  Difficulty in quantification of loss ofearnings does not mean that it is impossible.  


The State Claims Agency report concludes that it doesnot believe that Case Law and Precedent in relation to quantification of damages, provides a suitable means to revisit compensation in the case of Thalidomide survivors.  Such a categorical statement must be viewed against the Mission Statement of the State Claims Agency itself, which indicates that its purpose is to minimise the cost of claims to the State.  It is submitted that it is solely for that reason that the State Claims Agency has indicated that the methods applicable day in day out in the court system in this jurisdiction should not apply to this vulnerable section of society.  Even the Minister for Health and Children, upon delivery of the State Claims Agency report accepted that the State Claims Agency was not impartial or partial in relation to its views. 



Finola Cassidy

Spokesperson ITA

Ph: 086-9151235





The Irish Thalidomide Association questions original financial arrangement with the Irish State.

Posted on December 27, 2009 at 10:56 AM

Finola Cassidy

Irish Thalidomide Association,

22 Lea Road, Sandymount,

Dublin 4 

Phone:+353 1 2839877  and +353869151235



December 20, 2009

The Irish Thalidomide Association (ITA) had embarked upon discussions with the present Government over the past two years relating to the justice and fairness of the original 1970s Thalidomide financial arrangement with the Irish State.  


These discussions with Government have failed to progress in a constructive and effective manner although the Minister for Health & Children had indicated that a comprehensive review would occur.  


As a consequence of such lack of progress the Irish Thalidomide Association will be bringing its campaign for fair and equitable treatment to a new more heightened level to ensure appropriate results for its members.


Today we announce the commencement of our Campaign entitled “Justice for Thalidomide Survivors”. We call upon Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., An Taoiseach to immediately address our concerns.


It should be remembered that Thalidomide was a drug that was licensed by the IrishState to be prescribed to pregnant mothers to minimise the effects of morning sickness and insomnia during pregnancy.  The drug was never licensed bythe United States Federal Drugs Agency (FDA).


The drug had catastrophic consequences with 32 Irish children born with birth deformities including no limbs or shortened limbs etc.


Eventually, in the early 1970s, the Irish State entered into an arrangement which resulted in thalidomide children receiving a relatively miniscule lump sum together with a further restricted social welfare entitlement. The Irish State never admitted any responsibility for the events that occurred. To this day, the Irish Statel refuses access to documentation from this period relating to the events that occurred around the Thalidomide health catastrophe in Ireland.  




The original Thalidomide arrangement was delivered on a “take it or leave it basis”. It was constructed by the Irish State with the perception that many of the children concerned would not survive into adulthood. Tragically, the effects of misuse and overuse of deformed limbs and the added effects of the ageing process has resulted in a major reduction in mobility and a seriousincrease in pain levels for Thalidomide survivors. Due to such additional adverse physical consequences, the Irish Thalidomide Association now urge the Government as a priority to take remedial action to correct the injustices of the past by entering into a meaningful and effective dialogue process ratherthan avoiding its obligations.  


We welcome the re-adjustment upwards of the UK Thalidomide package which will benefit our fellow UK Thalidomide survivors in that jurisdiction.  Crucially, the UK Thalidomide Trust indicates that the UK Government  will acknowledge that a wrong occurred,  have admitted responsibility for sucha wrong by providing compensation and intend delivering a sincere apology for the catastrophic consequences that occurred.


In such an apology, which we understand could be delivered by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the UK Government will express its “sincere regret and deep sympathy for the injuries and suffering endured by Thalidomide victims and their families”


In Ireland, the government procrastinates, fails to acknowledge in an open and transparent manner the wrong that occurred and neglect to furnish any apology for the events that occurred.  We believe that this situation now requires to be resolved with a belated, yet proactive approach, by the Irish Government.


Our feelings of injustice are further exacerbated by virtue that the financial provision delivered to UK thalidomide survivors in advance of the proposed UK settlement of this week had already far exceeded the original Irish Thalidomide arrangement.


We call upon An Taoiseach Brian Cowen TD to meet with us for the purposes of commencing an effective dialogue process to rectify the mistakes of the past. 



 Also, in advance of such a meeting, we call upon the Taoiseach to admit that a wrong occurred to thalidomide survivors, that the Irish State were responsible for such a wrong by licensing the Thalidomide drug for pregnant mothers and also as a consequence to furnish an unreserved apology to Thalidomide Survivors onbehalf of the Citizens of Ireland in respect of the physical, emotional andpersonal suffering endured by Thalidomide Survivors and their families.


Almost50 years has elapsed and surely it is time that Justice is now achieved.



MaggieWoods, Chairperson.

FinolaCassidy, Spokesperson/ Secretary

AustinO’Carroll, Spokesperson





 “We expected to find evidence of carelessness by the pharmaceutical industry.  We did.  What astonished us, however, was the evidence we found of neglect by the Irish State.”

Olivia O’Leary.


“Theydidn’t want to be heroes or victims. They just wanted to be themselves. They achieved the extraordinary: they became ordinary people withordinary, if difficult, lives”

Terry Prone.


“Many Irish babies did not survive birth or live past the first year of theirlives…it is for these and their parents that we also seek for Brian Cowen to dothe right thing”.

Finola Cassidy, ITA Secretary/Spokesperson


“Throughout the negotiations everyone we have encountered has emphasised that they do not accept responsibility for the thalidomide disaster. It is like entering a children’s classroom and been greeted with a chorus of "it's not our fault".

Austin O’Carroll, ITA Spokesperson


 “Arising from the UK Governments humane response, justice must be done by way of an immediate acknowledgement of the wrong inflicted on thalidomide survivors inIreland together with the delivery of an appropriate apology”.

Maggie Woods,Chairperson ITA.

Finola Cassidy

Irish Thalidomide Association,


22 Lea Road, Sandymount,

Dublin 4 



Phone:+353 1 2839877  and +353869151235