Tuesday, 15 October 2002
Dáil Eireann Debate
125. Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the Government's response to the findings of the Lindsay tribunal; the reason he has not referred a copy of the report to the Director of Public Prosecutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18043/02]
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): The report of the Lindsay tribunal relating to the infection with HIV and hepatitis C of persons with haemophilia was published on 5 September last. The report is a lengthy and detailed document. The tribunal sat for 196 days and heard evidence from 146 witnesses. In addition, the tribunal heard the personal testimonies of some of those who were infected and the next of kin of some of those members of the haemophilia community who have passed away. I am sure that I speak for everyone in the House in expressing our sorrow at the suffering that all of these people have endured.
The report finds that 104 people with haemophilia were infected with HIV through blood products. Of these, the tribunal finds that 96 were infected by products imported into the country and eight were infected by products made by the Blood Transfusion Services Board. The records of the Virus Reference Laboratory recorded 217 persons with haemophilia tested positive for hepatitis C antibodies. The tribunal regards this as a minimum figure. It is understood that approximately 70 of those people infected with HIV have died. The report examines the response of various persons and bodies in the State in dealing with the emerging problems of HIV and hepatitis C and criticises a number of bodies. They include the BTSB, the National Haemophilia Treatment Centre, certain treating doctors and the Department of Health and Children. The report makes eight recommendations and I am examining these with a view to their early implementation.
In relation to referral of the report to the Director of Public Prosecutions, I indicated shortly after it was published that I needed time to study the report in order to make an informed decision on the matter. I also wished to discuss the report with representatives of the Irish Haemophilia Society which I did last Wednesday. I will make my final decision on the matter shortly.
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