Refused your birth
certificate by the Adoption Authority? Click
here to learn how to locate it for yourself.
Controversy over vaccine
By Claire O’Sullivan
and Conall O’Fatharta
Monday, January 24,
controversial vaccine trials in mother-and-baby homes have been told by
the Department of Health that it can’t give them their medical files
or any trial documentation as it is legally bound to return the files to
the drugs company.
The files are in the
hands of the Laffoy Commission on Child Abuse, which was forced to halt
its vaccine trials investigation following a 2002 court case.
Last night, Brenda McVeigh of the commission confirmed that they were
"undertaking an examination of all documentation that they have and
cataloguing it". She said no files have yet been returned to Glaxo
A letter from the Department of Health to the Oireachtas Joint Committee
on Health and Children, seen by the Irish Examiner, states that the
department cannot hand over the documentation to the committee or to
participants as legally "it is not possible for that material to be
used for any other purpose" other than Laffoy Commission
"In the circumstances, I understand from the commission that they
will be returning all documentation to the source that originally
provided it", the letter read.
The vaccine trials will be discussed by the Joint Committee in private
One of its members, Labour’s Kathleen Lynch, last night said the files
have to be handed to the people used in the trials, irrespective of
recent court rulings.
"I firmly believe the files must be given to victims as a human
right. But until they are handed over and until this is finalised, they
must be protected and must not be destroyed by any body or any
company," she said.
Up to 211 children were given the test vaccines in Ireland in the 1960s
and 1970s. Now adults, the participants say the drugs were given without
parental consent and they have spent years trying to access their
medical files and pharmaceutical information from that time.
They are also seeking previously unseen files obtained by the Laffoy
Commission from medical companies.
The Laffoy Commission was investigating vaccine trials between 1940 and
1987 as part of a separate module. However, the commission’s
investigation was brought to a sudden halt after court action taken by
the doctors involved in the trials.
Last September, after it emerged that a woman now living in the US was
seeking to sue the Sacred Heart Order and Glaxo SmithKline about the
administration of the vaccines, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health
and Children decided to revisit the vaccine trials issue.
The committee wrote to Glaxo SmithKline seeking information on the
trials. The company said the documentation contained sensitive personal
information and they wouldn’t hand it over without judicial order.
here to return to the news page
|“In all of us there
is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are
and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there
is a hollow yearning . . . and the most disquieting
Alex Haley, Author of Roots