I thank the Ceann Comhairle for this opportunity to raise this matter on the Adjournment of the House but it is a disgrace on the part of the Government that we should have to return to the issue of symphysiotomy by way of an Adjournment debate. An inquiry into this barbaric practice should already have been held, reported and acted upon. It is shame on the Minister for Health and Children and her Department, for refusing to do so.
I understand that the Minister is announcing tonight that she is to ask the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to carry out a review and report on the practice of symphysiotomy. I await the Minister's full statement but if that is the extent of what is being done, it is not good enough. The institution responsible for the abuse is being asked to investigate itself. It is not a proper inquiry, although it is clear its establishment has come about as a result of pressure on the Minister to act. That pressure for a proper inquiry needs to be maintained.
The RTE "Prime Time" programme of 18 February 2010, made a compelling case for an inquiry. It included new evidence. One of the most extraordinary pieces of evidence was one that did not take a great deal of research to uncover. This information was about the number of symphysiotomies actually carried out. The Department of Health and Children was asked for and supplied a figure which it said was incomplete because the Department did not have all the relevant health board reports. Yet, a reporter from "Prime Time" was able to go the National Library of Ireland — which has the relevant reports — and find the correct figure which was three times the Department's estimate. This is a very sorry and embarrassing state of affairs for the Department.
People commented to me after the programme that it confirmed that not only should Michael Neary have been struck off the medical register — as he was — but he should have been brought before the courts. Interviewed on national television he accused the abused and traumatised survivors of symphysiotomy of being motivated by what he termed the "smell of money".