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Health ministers appear before Tribunal
[Posted: Wed 23/05/2001 www.irishhealth.com]
Over the next two days, former health ministers will give evidence before the Lindsay Blood Tribunal. Today, Barry Desmond (Labour) who was Health Minister from 1982-87 will be asked about his time at the Department of Health when news of the infection of over 100 haemophiliacs with HIV emerged. Before these two witnesses appear, the Tribunal will hear evidence from the former Secretary-General of the Department, Jerry O' Dwyer.
After Mr Desmond gives evidence, the Tribunal will hear from Dr Rory O' Hanlon (Fianna Fail) who was Health Minister from 1987-1991. He will be asked about the negotiations in 1991 which led to the £7.7 million settlement between the government and haemophiliacs.
Three years earlier the Fianna Fail government fell over the compensation issue.
The Tribunal has already heard evidence from a Department official, Michael Lyons, that a decision by the government in 1989 to oppose a fund for haemophiliacs, which led to the collapse of the administration, was based on 'inaccurate' information. The briefing for government said that there had been no donation related case of HIV in Ireland.
However the Tribunal has been told that Blood Bank officials knew in 1986 that infection had been caused by Irish product. Inaccurate information from the Blood Bank also led Mr Desmond to tell the Dail that all blood products were heat treated.
Mr Lyons said that a 1986 report suggesting that locally made blood products were responsible for infecting some haemophiliacs only came to his attention in 1991, two years after he prepared the crucial ministerial memorandum for a Dail debate on compensation.
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