Irish Thalidomide Association

changing, challenging and facing the future

Why was the Irish State so reluctant to warn mothers of the danger?

In the Irish Times, June 14th 2016, Olivia O'Leary Writes "Every so often in journalism, you get a real sense of what Charlie Chaplin tried to portray in his film ‘Modern Times’: the struggle of the individual against the mighty and deadening power of industry and of hierarchy.

I got that in the radio documentary we did in 1972 on the Irish Thalidomide experience when Irish parents of thalidomide sufferers started to campaign for compensation. What we did was to help establish that the Irish government had to take their share of the blame. See the full article here and listen to the podcast (note : Olivia's podcast starts at 53 mins).

The Thalidomide Trial

On May 27th 1968, executives of Chemie-Grunenthal, the German company that made the drug thalidomide, went on trial charged with criminal negligence.It was one of the biggest pharmaceutical scandals of post-war Europe, and the trial would last more than two years.

This BBC radio documentarrecalls the period.

Attacking the Devil

A documentary on thalidomide that explores Harold Evans, who was the campaigning editor of The Sunday Times and his tireless work to expose the truth about thalidomide. It is now available on Netflix

MEPs call for better access to compensation for Thalidomiders

Over fifty years after the Thalidomide tragedy, in which a German-made morning sickness medicine for pregnant women caused malformations in their babies in several EU countries, victims are still fighting for fair compensation. MEPs call on the EU and its member states to ensure that all EU citizens affected have access to similar compensation, in a resolution voted on in December 2016.

MEPs urge the EU member states and Commission to coordinate actions and measures to recognise and provide compensation to Thalidomide survivors, in a non-binding resolution passed by a show of hands.

The German Federal Government should allow victims access to the Special Health Fund set up in Germany, as the country bears a particular responsibility, they say.

They ask that thalidomide survivors from the UK, Spain, Italy, Sweden and other member states be admitted to the scheme on a group basis, provided that their status as Thalidomide-affected individuals has been accepted as bona fide in their own countries.

The EU Commission should create a framework protocol at EU level, under which all EU citizens affected by Thalidomide would receive similar amounts of compensation, and draw up an EU programme of assistance and support to victims and their families, say MEPs.

Independently-verified research shows that in 1970, the German Federal Republic interfered with the criminal proceedings against Chemie Grünenthal GmbH, the German manufacturer of Thalidomide, and, as a result, no proper determination of the manufacturer’s guilt could be established. Moreover, steps were taken to prevent civil proceedings against this company, say MEPs.

MEPs also ask the Spanish authorities to review the process started by the government in 2010 and facilitate the proper identification and compensation of Thalidomide survivors.