Officials in my Department liaise with individual survivors of Thalidomide as required in relation to their monthly payments for life and also in relation to applications received from survivors via the HSE National Thalidomide Liaison in respect of once off-grants to support independent living.
The background to the monthly payments is that following an Irish Government Decision in January 1975, the Government granted an ex-gratia sum equivalent to 4 times the German lump-sum and an ex-gratia monthly allowance for life equal to the German monthly allowance, to each of the Irish children found to have thalidomide related injuries. There are currently 29 Irish people in receipt of ex-gratia monthly payments from my Department and all are now in their late 50s.
The German monthly payments are made by the Contergan Foundation, which is established under German legislation. From 01 August 2013, the Foundation substantially increased its monthly payments to thalidomide survivors, including Irish survivors. Both the German payments and the Irish ex-gratia payments made to the survivors are exempt from tax, including DIRT and are not reckonable as means for the purpose of Social Welfare payments. The rate of payment is related to the survivors' level of thalidomide related injury.
In addition to the initial lump sum and the monthly payments for life, the supports provided to each Irish survivor include a medical card on an administrative basis regardless of means, provision of appliances, artificial limbs, equipment, housing adaptations, and access to a full range of primary care, hospital and personal social services. There is a designated senior manager in the Health Service Executive to act as a liaison with regard to the ongoing health and personal social service needs of Irish survivors.
The Contergan Foundation has confirmed that since 2013, it is accepting applications from individuals for compensation for thalidomide related injury. It is important to note that it is open to any Irish person to apply to the Foundation for assessment of their disability as being attributable to thalidomide. Any Irish person who establishes that their injury is attributable to thalidomide, will be offered appropriate supports by the Irish Government commensurate with those currently provided to Irish thalidomide survivors, outlined above.
Work is underway in the Department to bring forward Heads of a Bill to provide on a statutory basis for health and personal social services for the Irish survivors of thalidomide.