Category: Archive

Hemophilia group wants fast government action

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — The Irish Hemophilia Society has called for the prompt implementation of a promised new compensation plan from the Irish government.

HIS members have been devastated by infection with HIV or Hepatitis C as a result of tainted blood products. The contaminated blood-clotting products have led to 80 percent of the 400-strong community being infected. So far 79 hemophiliacs have died.

IHS administrator Rosemary Daly said Health Minister Micheal Martin had written to the organization in January saying the new compensation program was a priority and has been included in the legislation program for the current Dail session.

“That doesn’t give me any consolation,” Daly said. “There has been a huge amount of messing around and this is very urgent for our members.

“We have waited long enough. It keeps getting kicked into touch and there have been silly games going on. The minister has been giving assurances, but I would like now to actually put his money where his mouth is.”

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Daly said a promise that the legislation was in the Dail program “didn’t mean everything would be done.”

“There is an obvious urgency,” she said. “There have been no claims met for people who died from HIV because of confusion about what they died from. Their widows have got nothing since a 1991 settlement and have been rearing kids on their own. They are the people we are really concerned about.”

In 1991, the government agreed an initial _8 million settlement with the hemophiliacs.

Daly said she understood the new program would operate under the auspices of the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal, which was set up in December 1995.

The appeal for help from the hemophiliacs comes as it was revealed that more than euro 289 million have been awarded in 1,488 claims from people affected by contaminated blood products under the Hepatitis C compensation program.

Through the end of last year, the 15-member Tribunal headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Seamus Egan had received 2,192 claims.

There are about 700 claims still to be decided and they are continuing to be submitted at a rate of about three a week.

The average award since the program was set up has been euro 194,500, plus legal costs of about euro 28,000.

A spokeswoman said individual awards have ranged from euro 380 to more than euro 3.1 million. Most of those infected were women who received an anti-D blood product during pregnancy.

There are three main types of claims: from those infected, from the dependants of those who have already died, and from care givers.

Those who are given an award are also eligible to apply for a 20 percent extra payment from a “reparation fund.” A tribunal spokesman described the fund as “a sort of an apology from the State for the wrong done.”

In 1997, a report of a sworn inquiry found a “catalogue of failures, neglect and inadequacies” in the operation of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service Board.

The current Fine Gael leader, Michael Noonan, who was then health minister, described it as one of “the worst public scandals which has occurred in this State.”

The report was forwarded to the Garda dommissioner and the director of public prosecutions but no charges have resulted.

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