Statement on meeting between Minister Harney and Irish Thalidomide Association
The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, T.D. today (Thursday 16th December, 2010) met with the Irish Thalidomide Association where she re-iterated the terms of the offer made by the Government in April, 2010 which included financial and care packages.
The Minister felt it important to advise the group that in the event of the Government’s offer of €2million in ex -gratia payments (amounting to €62,500 for each of the 31 thalidomide survivors in the country) not being taken up, the monies would have to revert to the exchequer by the end of the year.
The Minister pointed out that the offer was being made in good faith and that acceptance of the offer by members of the Association would not preclude the Association from entering into negotiations with any future Government nor would it have any effect on the Association’s legal strategy.
The measures announced in April, 2010, included:
- provision for special care packages for thalidomide survivors living in Ireland, to be provided following individual assessments of need carried out by an independent expert to be appointed by the Minister. Dr. Paul O’Connell, Consultant Rheumatologist, Beaumont Hospital has agreed to conduct multi-disciplinary assessments for this purpose;
- the designation of a senior manager in the HSE to act as liaison with regard to the ongoing health and personal social services needs of the Irish survivors. Ms Carmel Buckley, a senior nursing official in the HSE will act as liaison for this purpose;
- a once-off ex-gratia payment of €2m (amounting to €62,500 each) to be divided equally between the Irish survivors, as a practical expression of the Government’s sympathy;
- the payment of an annual lump sum, in addition to current payments, equivalent to a further German annual payment which commenced in 2009, of up to €3,680, in the most severe category;
- provision whereby, if an individual thalidomide survivor has applied for, but does not qualify for either the Disabled Drivers Tax Concession Scheme or the Motorised Transport Grant, their cases will be examined with a view to providing an equivalent level of financial assistance to assist with their transport needs.