Holly Cairns TD

Ireland must follow the example set by Australia by issuing an official State apology to Thalidomide survivors, according to Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns.

Deputy Cairns, who is the party’s spokesperson on disability, said:

“The national apology given by Australia’s Prime Minister this week is a welcome recognition of the decades of suffering experienced by Thalidomide survivors and their families in his country.

“In Ireland, there are around 40 Thalidomide survivors who have been left waiting for an official State apology and adequate redress for the birth defects they suffered as a result of the morning sickness drug.

“Thalidomide was prescribed in this country from 1957 but was withdrawn internationally in November 1961. Ireland failed to withdraw the drug for a further nine months and, incredibly, it remained on the shelves of some rural pharmacies and in household medicine cabinets until 1964.

“The State clearly failed in its duty to protect pregnant women and their babies by not withdrawing the drug immediately, and by failing to conduct an effective recall of Thalidomide in the years that followed.

“Thalidomide survivors have waited far too long for justice. The State must provide a long overdue apology and appropriate compensation for a medical scandal that had devastating consequences and continues to impact survivors today.”

November 29, 2023

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