Tag Archives: Margaret


Tuesday’s Irish Examiner showing the letter sent by the foster father of Grace to the then Minister for Health Michael Noonan in August 1996

Further to yesterday’s post about Grace, Finance Minister Michael Noonan and barrister Garry O’Halloran’s calls for Mr Noonan to resign…

Two sisters, Bridget and Margaret, spoke to Joe Duffy on RTÉ’s Liveline this afternoon.

They did the interview because a third sister, who has limited speech and poor mobility, lived in the same foster care home as Grace for brief respite periods on several occasions – in 1983, 1987 and 1989.

Bridget and Margaret said their sister, who is now in her 40s, was first placed there by her South Eastern Health Board social worker, when she was aged 12.

At the time, she would have had the mental age of a two-year-old.

The sisters both recalled an incident where the foster parents contacted the sisters’ family, abruptly telling them to take the girl home. When the family went to collect her, the girl was left alone at the end of the foster home’s driveway.

Asked if the sister could have communicated with them, if she had been abused, Bridget said:

“I don’t think so, no. Only through crying and being terribly anxious.”

Margaret explained that the gardai had contacted her 18 months ago to say that “there was a minor complaint made, nothing to worry about.”

Margaret then gave them a statement about the incident in which her sister was left at the end of the driveway.

Then, on December 9, 2015, Margaret received a letter from the HSE saying that her sister would be a part of a Resilience Ireland report.

She also received an apology from the HSE and clarification that a Garda investigation was under way.

Margaret said she cannot get any other details and is facing having to make requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

She also made an appeal for other families affected – it’s believed 40 children lived in the foster home – to get in touch.

Margaret said: “If [any other families affected] would like to talk or come together as a support group, I mean we should have been told before it came out in the media really. We should have been informed, we should have been warned. Not hear about our family member in the media.”

Bridget also said that they’d like to hear from the social worker who was working with their sister. She said the HSE hasn’t offered any support or contact with any other families involved because of “confidentiality” reasons.

Bridget added: “And they said it could be a long time before we found the truth out really, you know, and that’s, that’s hard as well to take on.”

Towards the end of the interview, Mr Duffy asked the sisters to articulate what they’re hoping for.

Bridget: “Just, well, we just hope that she, she wasn’t in this situation but we don’t know and just for other families out there, who are feeling the same way as us, if they want to get in contact, we can [be] stronger in numbers really and to just sit down and talk about it. If they’ve got any, any information that could help us…”

Joe Duffy: “And Margaret is a part of you saying, ‘actually maybe we shouldn’t dig?’

Margaret: “No.”

Duffy: “Maybe…”

Margaret: “No. Sure we have all the right to dig.”

Duffy: “Oh, I know that, I know that, I know that, absolutely. But is part of you saying, ‘oh god..'”

Margaret: “Oh of course you’re afraid what you’re going to find out…”

Bridget: “And what do you do with the information when you get it?”

Margaret: “Who’s going to be held responsible for all of this? The HSE? Who?”

Mr Duffy didn’t ask the sisters about the Irish Examiner’s report earlier this week which showed that Grace remained in the foster care home for another 13 years after the foster father – now deceased – sent a letter to the then Health Minister Michael Noonan asking that she be allowed to stay.

The letter was sent after the health board ruled that Grace be removed and after the family lost an appeal against that decision.

Mr Duffy also didn’t ask the sisters for their thoughts on barrister Garry O’Halloran’s calls for Mr Noonan to resign and for Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan to investigate Minister Noonan.

Listen back in full here

Previously: Grace, Noonan and Monageer

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Marie O’Connor, chair of the Survivors of Symphysiotomy, with members of her group and supporters outside the Department of the Taoiseach in September

Symphysiotomies – which involved the sawing through of a pregnant woman’s pelvic bone to allow her to deliver her child – were carried out on around 1,500 women in Ireland, some of those women as young as 15.

In October, Al Jazeera reported that a symphysiotomy took place in Ireland in 2005, while it’s believed another took place just last year.

Most of the women did not know what was happening, nor did they give their consent.

The controversial closing date for applications to the symphysiotomy redress scheme was today – much to the dismay of the Survivors of Symphysiotomy group.

BBC Radio Four’s Women’s Hour show did a piece on the issue this morning. During the show, a symphysiotomy survivor, Margaret, told presenter Jenni Murray of her own experience fifty years ago, while Marie O’Connor, chair of the group, Survivors of Symphysiotomy also spoke to Ms Murray.

From the show:

Margaret: “In the afternoon, I had started labour and when I hadn’t the baby by, I can’t tell you exactly the time but shall we say three or four o’clock, he [doctor] came along and he said, ‘we will have that baby in a few moments’. I then had an anaesthetic and, when I woke up, I was totally incontinent, the baby had been delivered but I didn’t see him. And he was taken away. The bed was soaking wet underneath me. And this incontinence has remained with me even to this day. Though I have had several operations to have had it repaired, nothing has really worked.”

Jenni Murray: “Margaret, what had been said to you about what was going to happen to you?”

Margaret: “Nothing. And it was as simple as that, nothing.”

Murray: “And what explanation were you given when you came around?”

Margaret: “When I came around, I was in extreme pain. I asked the doctor, he was standing over me, ‘have I had a caesarean section?’. And he answered me, by saying, ‘It was an entirely different procedure’. And I don’t think, at that particular time, as we are talking about Ireland of 50 years ago, you didn’t really ask questions, you just did as you were told.”

Murray: “When did you find out what had been done?”

Margaret: “I had no idea for years, no idea for years.”

Murray: “And what were you told when you did make enquiries about it and found out what the procedure was?”

Margaret: “I didn’t make enquiries about the procedure because I thought it was something normal. This is one of the problems.”

Murray: “So, just explain to me what they have actually done.”

Margaret: “They had cut right through my pelvis and straight down, through my bladder and I’ve had my bowel damaged aswell. I went back of course, for my six weeks check-up. Now, to get into the car, and to go home was the first effort. I couldn’t walk, the doctor told me nothing was wrong with me but my nerves. Then my feet had to be cut together, and I had to be turned around to get my legs in and the same procedure for getting out. The same procedure took place for going to bed and the same procedure took place to get up.”

Murray: “What other operations have you had to have subsequently?”

Margaret: “So then I went in to our local hospital and the surgeon there said, I think I will refrain from saying what he said to me. I don’t think I will tell you what he said it was so awful. Anyway he decided he would do a sling, this would help. The sling is an incision from one hip to the other and they proceeded to pull your bladder up to try to tip it backwards to stop it leaking but of course he cut away the top of my bladder. It wasn’t there, so he couldn’t do that. I don’t know what he thought he was doing but anywyay, that is what happened. But then that particular sling went wrong very badly whether it was done wrong, of course needless to say, I wasn’t told but I swelled and my insides swelled and so I was taken to the theatre in the middle of the night and they undone it and then I went to that obstetrician who did the sling and that sling was correct and I was 40% continent after it. So when I went back to him, after six weeks, he said, ‘if you’d like to go for a baby again, if you’re not happy about having only the one child, perhaps you would then consider, you’re going to have to have a Caesarean section, because all the damage you now have.’ And I said, ‘yes, I will’. And I had three Caesarean sections without any problem.”

Murray: “What’s your reaction, Margaret, now to the amount of compensation that’s being offered?”

Margaret: “Well now the amount of compensation, actually, first of all my main thing is, I need to hear them say what they did to us was dreadful. Now I have had two ankle suspension done as well, I have had a decompression in my spine because I cannot walk properly and I can’t manage stairs which is in evidence here today. But I would like first for them to tell us that this was the wrong procedure and surely they can say that the damage they did to us was wrong and that we’ve had a lifetime of suffering. And he [Taoiseach Enda Kenny] thinks €50,000 is an offer? Forget it.”Continue reading →