Tag Archives: Survivors of symphysiotomy


Marie O’Connor with members of Survivors Of Symphysiotomy outside the Department of the Taoiseach in 2014


In the Sunday Business Post.

In a report on the €34million symphysiotomy compensation scheme that the State set up in 2014 for women who had the procedure…

Michael Brennan reported:

The maximum award under the scheme was €150,000 and the legal fees payable on top of this were capped at €6,000.

But the Sunday Business Post has learned that survivors have received letters from a solicitors’ firm seeking addition legal costs out of their awards.

So far, over 200 women have been awarded €50,000 each, another 160 have received €160,000 and 13 have received €150,000.

The firm seeking additional legal costs from these awards is MacGeehin Toale.

It has taken a number of test cases in the courts on behalf of survivors of symphysiotomy, with a view to taking more if they were successful.

A letter previously sent by Colm MacGeehin to a survivor explained that doctors would have to be paid €2,000 to produce a medical report on their injuries. “The cost of these reports can be seen as an investment in cases that, should they succeed, are likely to lead to significant awards,” he wrote.

But so far, around 386 women have decided to accept payments instead from the State’s Symphysiotomy Payments Scheme, which accounts for the majority of those affected.

This means that their legal proceedings are automatically dropped because they had to agree not to take any legal action against the state or the hospitals which performed the operations.

But MacGeehin Toale has been contacting women it represented for further legal costs for work which has not been covered by the state scheme.

Colm MacGeehin has acted as the legal adviser to the Survivors of Symphysiotomy (SoS) campaign group. He is the former husband of the chair of the group, Marie O’Connor.

Their son, barrister Ruadhán Mac Aodháin, has been described by SoS as “the main junior counsel” working on the cases, He also works as a legal adviser to the SoS group.

…She could not be contacted for comment. MacGeehin could also not be contacted for comment.


Law firm billing symphysiotomy victims for fees beyond state cap (Sunday Business Post)


ICCL (Irish Council for Civil Liberties) director Mark Kelly and Marie O’Connor, chairof the Survivors of Symphysiotomy this morning.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties writes:

The unanimous rejection of the scheme came via a ballot by members of the Survivors of Symphysiotomy group held during Extraordinary General Meetings in Cork and Dublin over the weekend (27 and 28 September 2014). The scheme, which was presented to members of SoS earlier this month by Minister for Health Dr Leo Varadkar TD, proposes a baseline ex-gratia payment of €50,000 for each survivor who can provide proof of surgery, with​ higher payments for women who can show they suffer from a complex array of injuries that were caused directly by symphysiotomy.

Marie O’Connor, Chairperson of Survivors of Symphysiotomy, which represents 99 per cent of casualties of this 18th century childbirth operation, said:

“Our members have voted unanimously to reject the unfair and unjust scheme as outlined to us by the Minister for Health. This is an ex gratia scheme that admits of no wrongdoing on the part of the State and offers utterly inadequate levels of restitution for the physical and mental suffering that has blighted so many lives.”

“The Government has never engaged meaningfully with Survivors of Symphysiotomy. Not alone was this scheme presented to us as a fait accompli but it flouts key recommendations made by the UN. Survivors of Symphysiotomy is united in its opposition to this unacceptable scheme and will support efforts by its members to achieve truth and justice through the courts.”

ICCL Director Mr Mark Kelly adds:

“This scheme willfully ignores some of Ireland’s most fundamental obligations under international human rights law. It forces survivors to choose between compensation and justice. It contains no measures to get to the truth of how and why these barbaric operations took place. It also lacks any measures to bring those responsible to account.”

Rights groups reject symphysiotomy redress proposals that “flout” human rights standards (ICCL)