[Sinn Fein]

6th November 2002

SF welcomes Lindsay report but expresses concern that tribunal didn't address a number of matters

Commenting in the Dáil today in the debate on the Lindsay Tribunal report Sinn Fein TD Arthur Morgan said

``I would like to reiterate the comments of my party colleague Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin in welcoming the publication of the report of the Tribunal of Inquiry into the infection with HIV and Hepatitis C of persons with Haemophilia and related matters.

``As already stated Sinn Fein broadly supports the government's motion and the Amendments tabled by both the Fine Gael and Labour Parties and welcomes the Government's commitment to implement the recommendations in the Report. I also welcome the decision to refer this report to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

``There are a number of issues arising from the publication of this report that I wish to comment on.

``The Irish Haemophiliac Association in its response to the Report of the Lindsay Tribunal has stated that it should be known that in the course of establishing and participating in the Tribunal of Inquiry, people with haemophilia represented at the Inquiry by the Irish Haemophilia Society, had to overcome many obstacles. The society expressed concern over the adversarial attitude of the Tribunal towards people with haemophilia and their families. The IHS in its criticism refers to two incidents: The comments of John Finlay SC on behalf of the Tribunal, who during the course of the evidence of Ms Linda Dowling, whose father died from the consequences of HIV and Hepatitis C infections, that the Tribunal should not ``over indulge'' the witness any longer and the also the incident of Mr Finlay's question to one witness who contracted HIV regarding how he had spent his compensation money.

The disappointment of the society over this report becomes increasingly clear when one sees the difficulties which it overcame in participating in this tribunal. Particularly harrowing for the society was the difficulties it faced in its attempts to obtain priority for their witnesses, many of whom were seriously ill, in the order of witnesses to deliver evidence before the inquiry. In light of all these difficulties the victims deserved a more thorough investigation and a conclusive report.

On reading Judge Lindsay's Report I was extremely disconcerted to find that it failed to assign responsibility for infection of haemophiliacs with HIV and hepatitis C. 

I would ask why the Lindsay Report does not include any criticisms of Armour a company which took the decision in June 1988 to continue supplying a product to the BTSB which it had serious safety concerns regarding. Evidence was given to the Tribunal of the knowledge of Armour Pharmaceuticals Limited of the HIV infection risks posed by Armour products which they continued to distribute in Ireland. 

I would like to express concern that the Tribunal failed to investigate certain matters.

1. Why were all board members of the BTSB not called to give evidence?

2. Why did the Tribunal fail to investigate various Ministers for Health who had ultimate responsibility for policy decisions such as the non-implementation of national policy in respect of Council of Europe recommendations?  

3. Why the did the Tribunal fail to investigate the late Mr Sean Hanratty, former BTSB Chief Technical Officer who had a key role in deciding what product was used and who was also a director of a company which acted as an intermediary for Miles Laboratories Incorporate which supplied non-heat treated and unscreened ``Cutter'' products which were responsible for some of the Irish infections. Mr Hanratty was also responsible for destroying BTSB paperwork that could have identified precisely which products caused infection.

``I would now like to address a number of comments made by Minister Martin in his contribution to this house on the Report of the Lindsay Tribunal on 23 October 2002.

``In relation to the possibility of the establishment of a tribunal to investigate the role of the pharmaceutical companies, I would like to ask the Minister to clarify precisely what he had in mind when he stated ``I believe it would be possible to mount a useful investigation which would allow access to publicly available materials and to persons and bodies willing to co-operate''?

``Sinn Fein has called for the establishment of an adjudicative tribunal to investigate the role of the pharmaceutical companies because it is our belief that any other form of inquiry or tribunal will not result in those responsible for the infection with HIV and Hepatitis C of persons with Haemophilia being held accountable.

``Is the Minister aware of the comments by Mr John Finlay SC, Counsel for the Tribunal on July 20 2001 that he foresaw at the very least a potential problem in investigating the role of the pharmaceutical companies as it was his understanding that documents would only be released under the American Judicial Assistance Statute to an adjudicative tribunal and not an investigative one. Would Minister Martin inform the Dáil if he has received advice to the contrary and if he has not could he inform the Dáil how the people of this state can have confidence in what he term a ``useful investigation''?

``We should look carefully at why this Tribunal was not to the satisfaction of the people who were most affected by the contamination of blood products and why it has not brought closure to this tragic episode in the history of the blood services in Ireland. The terms of reference of all future tribunals will need to be considered in much greater detail in order that they are sufficient to allow for a full investigation of all the relevant facts.''

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