As the House is aware, I appointed Mr. Paul Gardiner, senior counsel, to produce a situation report about the position in Ireland and in the United States in respect of a possible investigation into the actions of the multinational pharmaceutical companies whose products are implicated in the HIV and hepatitis C infection of persons with haemophilia.
As part of his investigations, Mr. Gardiner liaised with solicitors acting for the Irish Haemophilia Society. He travelled to the United States and spoke to a number of relevant experts, including the lead counsel in the HIV haemophiliac litigation in the United States. Mr. Gardiner also received legal advice from a major New York law firm on the matters relevant to his investigations.
Mr. Gardiner furnished a report to me which consisted of a 60-page opinion and a number of appendices, one of which comprised over 50 pages of legal advice from the US lawyers. The report drew attention to the fact that there is no guarantee that the US authorities would provide judicial assistance to an Irish tribunal, either in enforcing the discovery of documents or compelling the attendance of witnesses. I briefed my Cabinet colleagues on the content of the report and I provided the Irish Haemophilia Society with a copy of it.
Notwithstanding the difficulties identified, it would be possible to mount a useful investigation which would access publicly available material and seek the assistance of persons and bodies willing to co-operate with such investigation. The committees of investigation Bill may provide an appropriate mechanism for this inquiry. Other legal avenues are also being explored in consultation with the Attorney General and the legal representatives of the Irish Haemophilia Society.
I intend to maintain contact with the Irish Haemophilia Society on this issue.