Belfast Telegraph

Thalidomide victims' payout fury

Thalidomide victims have accused Health Minister Mary Harney of a "take it or leave it" attitude to a two million euro compensation deal.

The minister told survivors they have until the end of the year to accept the money or it would go back into state coffers.

But Finola Cassidy, spokeswoman for the Irish Thalidomide Association, said they were annoyed at Ms Harney's attitude.

"We're bitterly disappointed at the same 'take it or leave it' manner and approach that was foisted on our parents when we were 12-year-old children, and has been foisted twice now in this last year by Minister Harney," she said.

Included in the deal is the one-off 62,500 euro payment costing the Government two million euro; a further annual individual payment of up to 3,680 euro for the worst affected; individual assessments for special care packages; a senior Health Service Executive manager to liaise with survivors; and an appeal process to ensure transport needs are met.

A Department of Health statement said the Minister felt it "important to advise the group that in the event of the Government's offer of two million euro in ex-gratia payments not being taken up, the monies would have to revert to the exchequer by the end of the year."

The statement said the offer was being made in good faith and that accepting it would not preclude the Thalidomide Association from entering into negotiations with any future government, nor would it affect its legal strategy.

Ms Cassidy said the Association will issue legal proceedings against the Government on Friday.

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