The procedure known as Symphysiotomy involved the slicing of the pubic bone in order to widen the birth canal in childbirth. The procedure was carried out in Ireland from the mid-1940s up until the mid-1980s.


On the 26th of November 2013, approval was given by the Government to the then  Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly, to appoint, retired Circuit Court Judge Yvonne Murphy, to assist in finding some form of closure for the surviving victims of the procedure.


Under an ex-gratia redress scheme announced by the Government on the 1st July, 2014 women who had undergone the symphysiotomy procedure during childbirth will qualify for compensation payments of up €150,000.00.


The scheme offers compensation in the form of a three tiered payment band scheme as follows:


  • €50,000.00 will be awarded to women who can prove that they had undergone a surgical symphysiotomy, that they had experienced walking difficulties, back pain and had initial difficulty bonding with their child in the aftermath of the procedure.
  • €100,000 will be received by a woman who can prove that they suffered, or in fact are still suffering, from a complex range of injuries as a result of the procedure.
  • €150,000 will be awarded to women who had a caesarean section, followed by the symphysiotomy procedure.


It should be noted that for the two higher bands of compensation, full medical assessments are required to prove that substantial and continuing injuries exist.

Women who have already issued legal proceedings will have to discontinue such proceedings if they wish to seek redress under the scheme.  Whilst this is an incentive for victims, the scheme also states that if such compensation is availed of, the women in question waive their rights to issue any further legal proceedings on the issue.

The scheme is to be administered by the State Claims Agency who estimates that it will take about 8 working weeks to put the scheme in place.  Until then further details of the scheme and its administration are awaited.


Trish Hynes is a Solicitor in FitzGerald Solicitors.  The contents of this blog are opinion only and are not intended to offer legal advice. You should contact your Solicitor for specific advice tailored to your circumstances.





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