Reilly accused over compensation
Health Minister James Reilly has been accused of scuppering compensation payouts to the alleged victims of disgraced medic Michael Shine.
Support group Dignity 4 Patients accused Dr Reilly of needlessly delaying agreed settlements in 112 civil cases.
Ex-consultant Mr Shine was previously acquitted in court of indecent assault on teenage boys while working at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. He was later struck off the medical register for professional misconduct. He denies all allegations of abuse.
Bernadette Sullivan, executive director of Dignity 4 Patients, fears the compensation from the Medical Missionaries of Mary (MMM) could be in jeopardy.
"Settlement had been agreed by all sides, but the minister has potentially scuppered this agreement by not consenting to the finalisation of this settlement," she said.
"Our helplines are inundated with calls from distressed complainants who were adjusting psychologically to the closure that this settlement was bringing to them and now this is being snatched away from them. I have repeatedly informed the minister that his actions to date are causing immense suffering to those affected."
A spokesman for Dr Reilly said the minister welcomes the agreements, adding that any delay is down to checking the proposals are fair and legally sound.
The financial settlement was reached after a lengthy legal battle, which began more than 15 years ago. The first civil case was settled in the High Court in May for an undisclosed amount by the insurers for the MMM, Allianz.
Ms Sullivan said since then, protracted legal talks eventually led to a long overdue agreement for an additional 112 alleged patient victims. It is understood another 130 group members have not taken action.
A spokesman for Dr Reilly said health chiefs are carrying out the necessary due diligence checks required to ensure the interests of the plaintiffs and the state are best served by the settlement and that it is proper, fair and reasonable in that context. "This proposal involves the minister agreeing to allow 3.5m euro funds, set aside by the MMM, to cover appropriate claims," he said. Key questions include checking the terms of the deed of indemnity, how best to divide between costs/legal fees and damages, and if all alleged victims are catered for, he added.