Irish Thalidomide Association

changing, challenging and facing the future

The Irish Thalidomide Association 
representing Thalidomide survivors
born in Ireland


Grunenthal should be forced to change its position on its Irish litigation by the Irish Governement who should now also acknowledge it's own failures to its Irish Thalidomide Family

The Irish Thalidomide Association requests the Irish State to follow this weekend’s lead by the drug maker Grunenthal and to finally apologise for its failure to withdraw Thalidomide, being one of the last countries in the world to have done so. Indeed no complete recall ever occurred here, resulting in further and needless injury to Irish children.

The drug maker’s surprise apology was played on Saturday at a special symposium for victims held in Germany marking the 60th anniversary of the international withdrawal date of Thalidomide in November 1961. Michael Wirtz, representing the family that owns Grünenthal, delivered the apology for “all the content of this 60-year period”. “The apologies are addressed to a large and also essentially unknown number of affected people in Germany, but also in Europe."

John Stack, Chairperson of the ITA (who was born in 1963) said “in no jurisdiction have Grunenthal made any payment of compensation so the belated apology is somewhat hollow.”

Ireland is one of the last jurisdictions in the world where litigation in relation to the damage done by the morning sickness drug is ongoing against Grunenthal.

In Ireland the non-recall in a timely manner could be responsible for 40-50% of total injuries here.

The irony is that in Ireland Grunenthal have not admitted responsibility as per their legal Defence delivered in the litigation here. Yet, internationally they have apologised - so this is inconsistent. The company should specify if the apology applies to Ireland too and should put pressure on the Irish Government to also apologise. The Grunenthal apology should create a situation where a similar statement together hopefully with an acknowledgement of wrong perpetrated by the State occurs here.

Grunenthal should be forced to change its position on its Irish litigation by the Irish Government who should now also acknowledge its own failures to its Irish Thalidomide Family.

Otherwise little degree of credence can be given to the genuineness of their apology after 60 years……..


Not Dead Yet.

We are still here, still waiting for an apology and justice

We note the worldwide celebration of the 60th anniversary of the international withdrawal of Thalidomide on November 26, 1961. However, Irish survivors are delaying our celebration indefinitely.  This is to acknowledge the inexplicable absence of a formal withdrawal of the drug in Ireland. The Irish Government of the day took a deliberate decision not to warn pregnant women. This was after its catastrophic effects were known and acknowledged across the world. This delay in informing the public and removing the drug from circulation resulted in a further significant number of births of people damaged by Thalidomide.

The Irish State licensed the Thalidomide drug for use in Ireland in the late 1950s but failed utterly to effectively withdraw it in November 1961 when it was found to cause catastrophic injuries. Indeed, there is no evidence of a complete recall of the drug in Ireland. The States' failure to publicly announce the withdrawal of Thalidomide or account for any supplies sitting in homes around Ireland resulted in other needlessly affected babies being born up to and including 1964, three years after the International withdrawal date. It is time, sixty years later, for an apology and a fair deal for those of us who are still waiting and alive today.

As this poignant, painful and pertinent anniversary comes around, our government plans to publish legislation in relation to Thalidomide without any engagement whatsoever with us. Legislation about us and without our input adds further insult to our birth injuries. It reminds us of the 1975 arrangement for Thalidomide survivors that was not presented to the High Court for approval. This failure to obtain High Court approval in 1975 has never been fully explained. Approval from the High Court is a necessary requirement to protect children from potentially unfair settlements.

We look forward to a real celebration, for those of us who survive long enough, to the day when our long running legal case against the State, TP Whelehan Distributors and the Thalidomide drug manufacturer Chemie Grünenthal concludes successfully.

Justice delayed is justice denied.


Thalidomide caused severe foetal damage. We were born without  limbs, with limbs foreshortened, with impairments of hearing and vision, as well as injury to internal organs. This caused pain and suffering, not only to ourselves, but also to our parents, siblings and to our own children and partners.Now in middle age we are looking back at our lives and looking forward to our futures?

We can look back in pride as well as anger.  With pride we regard the contribution we have made and continue to make to our society.

Among our tiny group we include doctors, an engineer, a  journalist, as well as farmer, publican, an artist,  and community development leaders. We regard our children and partners, our place in our communities, with pride and with pleasure.  

And in anger, we also calculate the costs.  Our lives, which we consider ordinary, which is a success in itself,  has come at a price.  We have pushed ourselves far. We have strained our muscles, twisted our skeletons, and inherited pain. The arrangement made between the Irish Government and our parents in 1975 was then barely adequate and is today wholly inadequate needs to be re-visited urgently in the light of our declining status

A survey of our members, published in a Medical Journal, enumerate these difficulties.  Previous surveys carried out by the UK and Swedish Thalidomide groups, endorse our call for review and redress.      

The deterioration of health and mobility, due to deformities caused by Thalidomide, in our members is evident.  This deterioration will continue and increase as we the survivors grow older.  Precedence has been set both in Sweden and the UK where redress has been granted to the survivors.  

Some members rightly deserve to have their cases re-investigated as they have not been officially recognised as Thalidomide survivors and accordingly never received any benefits from the 1975 "arrangement".




Finola Cassidy
Spokesperson & Secretary ITA 

Ph: 00 353 86 9151235
Twitter: @ThalidomideIre