Press Release

Statement on Symphysiotomy Payment Scheme

Minister Varadkar notes the remarks by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission regarding the Government’s Surgical Symphysiotomy Payment Scheme. The Scheme is supported by two of the three groups representing the women.

“The women have waited for decades for a resolution to this sad chapter in their lives. The Scheme is now underway and I hope that for the majority of women it will help to bring the closure they deserve,” Minister Varadkar said.

“The Scheme is designed to be simple, straightforward and non-adversarial compared to a lengthy uphill court battle, or a tribunal, with an uncertain outcome, financial risks and added stress. The scheme is voluntary and no one taking part waives their right to proceed with a court case. They may opt out of the application and assessment process at any stage, up to the time of accepting an award. My officials and I are available to meet the Chief Commissioner Ms Logan to discuss the matter thoroughly and to explain the background to the issue, which will show that the Government has carefully weighed up all of the issues relating to symphysiotomy and provided a fair outcome for the women involved.”

A number of applications have already been received.

The Government has listened carefully to the views of the groups representing the women, many of whom wanted resolution and early access to a Payment Scheme. Two detailed reports have been prepared and considered by Government in preparing this Scheme. Professor Oonagh Walsh in her report on Symphysiotomy in Ireland 1944 – 1984 provided a comprehensive review of the practice of symphysiotomy. This information was supplemented by the independent Judge Yvonne Murphy last March which led to the Government decision to set up the payments scheme.

The Minister will also discuss the possibility of extending the time limit for applications with the independent assessor, Judge Clark.