The report of the Lindsay Tribunal, which investigated how almost half of Ireland’s haemophiliacs were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C, has been passed on to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who will decide if criminal proceedings are to be taken against some of the people responsible.
The blood scandal has already cost the lives of 79 people, including children. Hundreds more have been infected by contaminated blood products.
The State is also considering setting up a new inquiry to look at the role of U.S. pharmaceutical companies in the whole affair. Of the 105 people who were infected with HIV, 97 are believed to have contracted the virus from imported products.
The Tribunal found that contaminated products were given to haemophiliacs, even though safer blood products were available at the time.
It also found that many of the victims were not told about their condition for years. When they became ill with AIDS the Government fought them tooth and nail to avoid setting up a fund which would help them with basic living expenses. It found that the blood transfusion service board failed to use heat-treated-products despite the fact that the board had given assurances that only safe products would be used.
Instead of removing the dangerous products from circulation, the blood board offloaded a large amount of non-heat-treated stocks into hospitals, leading directly to the deaths of five people.
Judge Alison Lindsay described the failure to use heat-treated products as “clearly inappropriate” — language which has angered many in the community.
Judge Lindsay was extremely reluctant to blame any individuals for the scandal. Her report came as a major disappointment to the Irish haemophiliac community, many of whom feel it was little more than a whitewash.
They are now hoping that action will be taken by the Director of Public Prosecutions, so that someone will eventually be found responsible for what is undoubtedly one of the State’s greatest scandals. ♦