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State’s failure to act for thalidomide victims unconscionable – Ward

1st July 2022 - Senator Barry Ward

The failure by the State and the Department of Health to act for the victims of Thalidomide is unconscionable and must be addressed, according to Fine Gael Senator Barry Ward.

Speaking in the Seanad yesterday, Senator Ward called on the State to stop dragging its heels and to act to provide a solution for the victims of Thalidomide and their families in Ireland, one of the last countries in the world to withdraw the drug.

“It is really unfair the Government has not moved to compensate or acknowledge those people who have lived for over 60 years with varying degrees of disability”, Senator Ward said, “but as unfair as it is on those who suffered injuries, it is desperately unfair on their mothers, many of whom blamed themselves despite the fact that they did not know about the effects of the drug, and many of whom have now passed away.”

“The only fair thing now is for the Government to acknowledge the State’s failures in the past, to apologise and to put in place a proper compensation scheme for the survivors of Thalidomide.

“This is an issue that I have raised in Seanad Éireann and with the Minister for Health on a number of occasions. There are now fewer than 40 survivors of Thalidomide in Ireland and they are still awaiting recognition of their circumstances.

“Grunenthal, the German manufacturer of Thalidomide issued an apology in November 2021. The narrative from the Department of Health for the past number of years is wrong.

“The Government and the Department of Health must act now, firstly to apologise unreservedly to survivors, those who have passed away and their families and secondly to provide adequate medical care for these victims.

“There are now less than 40 survivors in Ireland still awaiting recognition of their circumstances 60 years later. This is completely unconscionable,” Senator Ward concluded.


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