Infant Drug Trials in Ireland – “We haven’t Gone Away”

Just to remind the Government that we haven’t gone away; that the publication of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Report was not the end of the matter. That report is only the beginning. You and your friends in the Catholic hierarchy treated us with contempt when we were children, using our small bodies as your slave labour, allowing our bodies to be used for the sexual perversions of the clergy and, if those weren’t bad enough, you also used our bodies to enrich yourselves and drug companies.

Children brought up in Irish care homes may unknowingly have been used as human guinea pigs in vaccine trials with the approval of the religious Orders and the Irish Government. Vaccinations were tested on the children throughout the 1960s – with the last known case in 1973. The kids were in care homes in Dublin and Cork and claim that neither their relatives nor guardians were consulted about the trials. A woman subjected to a controversial vaccine trial as a baby without her mother’s consent broke her silence last night to reveal her traumatic decades-long fight for justice. Mari Steed (50) was effectively used as a guinea pig during the ‘four-in-one’ vaccine trials carried out on her between December 1960 and October 1961 when she was between nine and 18 months old.

When I was with the nuns we were split into four groups and, depending what group you were in, you either got an injection, or a sugar cube, or a mug of some drink poured from a tall ceramic jug, or nothing. We all had patches sewn onto our clothes [shirts, trousers, hankies] denoting which group we were in. When I ‘graduated’ to a different Industrial School we were split into just two groups. One group received generic toothpaste and the other received Colgate. Same with the injections – sugar cubes or injections.

I can’t understand how useful all this testing of products or drug trials could have been, unless similar trials were also going on outside of the Institutions – on healthy children. How accurate were the results of these trials in anyway? All of the children, myself included, were already suffering from little food, little heat, hard work and generally in a lousy condition. It beggars belief that they would use the children in Ferryhouse in these trials. They knew in 1967 that the place was not fit for the purpose – which was the care of children. In the official language Ferryhouse was described as a ‘social malaise’ – that from a secret Department of Health report of the same year. That report was compiled after the death of a child – caused by the bad conditions and overcrowding in Ferryhouse.

How anyone thought we were fit subjects for product testing is almost beyond me. I say ‘almost’ because there is a possibility that we were regarded as expendable. Surely not!

Andrew49 5.10.2010

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11 Responses

  1. Somethings just stick in your mind like regularly queuing up for a mug of Epsom Salts …. and then queuing up to use the ‘jacks’! Apparently a dose of Epsom Salts regularly – and in the Institutions regular meant every six weeks – keeps you regular.

    How any tests or trials of drugs or products, on already sick children, could give meaningful outcomes needs to be answered. The professors involved in these were from UCD and they went to court in Ireland to stop that question being asked.

    UCD were also involved in the Tuairim group … in fact it was a UCD discussion clup. Donal Barrington, a future Supreme Court judge, the late David Thorney, a future TD and MEP, and Dr Miriam Hederman O’Brien, who was to chair the 1980 Commission on Taxation.

    Tuairim produced in 1966 a report on industrial schools called ‘Some of Our Children’. During the making of the report they spoke and listened to Peter Tyrrell and Peter told them of the abuses that he witnessed and suffered in Letterfrack at the hands of the Christian Brothers. It’s said somewhere that this UCD group did not doubt the veracity of Peter’s testimony so Peter was looking forward to the publication of the report.

    When the report was published it contained not one iota of Peter’s testimony … indeed the report avoids any talk of physical or sexual abuse in the Institutions. In protest Peter immolated himself on Hampstead Heath. Peter’s letters though survived in the archives of Owen Sheehy-Skeffington and were published a few years ago: Founded on Fear by Peter Tyrrell.

    Apparently archbishop Mcquaid was anxious that the UCD Tuairim group was developing an independence of thought that was challenging the status quo and Catholic Church authority. He needn’t have worried. UCD it appears had a nice little earner in the Infant Drug Trials and with so many ‘cheap’ children available in the Institutions they were never going to upset that applecart…. perhaps there should be calls now for UCD to contribute to the Redress Fund.

  2. This is the latest scandal to be revealed from the Gulags of the Industrial School System; as with the Illegal Indemnity Deal of 2002; 2 Doctors have gone to court so that their names cannot be mentioned in association with these trials; it is in extremely corrupt Third World Countries where this type of suppression of the truth is easiest?

    Is this the last revelation to come out of these Gulags; I think NOT?

    Will the Truth be so easily hidden; I Think So!

    There are 2 Petitions that currently affect the Survivors of the Industrial School System they are and

    There is also a new website for Survivors of the Industrial School System; their Families, and Friends!

    The Shame of Ireland Stands for Democracy, Transparency and Inclusion for ALL!

  3. Somethings just stick in your mind like regularly queuing up for a mug of Epsom Salts …. and then queuing up to use the ‘jacks’! Apparently a dose of Epsom Salts regularly – and in the Institutions regular meant every six weeks – keeps you regular.

    How any tests or trials of drugs or products, on already sick children, could give meaningful outcomes needs to be answered. Some of those involved in these infant drug trials were from UCD, and court action was taken to stop the Laffoy Commission from inquiring into the infant drug trials.

  4. What is emerging as an overall theme in the psychology of those who ran and oversaw these institutions is becoming clearer by the day as more news emerges.

    They were effectively viewing the children of the poor and the vulnerable as ‘untermensch’ and not as entitled to rights as those that came from ‘good catholic families’ (ie wealthy enough to be respectable in the eyes of the church).

    The Catholic church in many respects echoes the nazi mindset that captured Germany in the mid-thirties. A belief in the stratification of society into the good germans, blue-eyed and blond of hair and the ‘untermensch’. Its no accident that the cultural ties between that regime and the catholic church are so strong although seldom mentioned. After all wasn’t Adolf Hitler a known catholic? Yes he was despite the traditional catholic’s hysterical shriek that he was an atheist. This information is hidden carefully away from the faithful who defend the catholic church in big buildings called ‘libraries’ where those who require only ‘belief’ to function in society are seldom found.

    We essentially had nazi-run camps in Ireland up to the late 70’s and some cases early 1980’s and the inmates while not jewish were certainly regarded as ‘untermensch’ and therefore could be used below the level of acceptable human dignity.

    That is why news of these trials are so believable. The Irish Mengeles stand condemned.

  5. It’s interesting that you mention the Nazis. When Peter Tyrrell was released from Letterfrack he left Ireland for the UK and joined the British Army to fight the Nazis. He was an exemplary soldier and ended the war in a Nazi POW camp.

    Tyrrell compared the experiences between Letterfrack and the POW camp and realised that being a prisoner of Hitler (with German prison guards apologising for the starvation rations) was better than being in the care of the Irish Christian Brothers in Letterfrack. Let me emphasise that: The Irish Christian Brothers are a worse bunch of people than soldiers of Nazi Germany!

    But, I hear you ask, what has this little snippet got to do with the infant Drug Trials? Read on:

    It was a miracle that Tyrrell’s charred remains were identified after he burned himself to death on Hampstead Heath in 1967. All that police had to go on was a torn postcard addressed to Owen Sheehy-Skeffington at Trinity College. For ten years, Tyrrell had corresponded from London with this deeply honourable senator who was campaigning about the regime of tyrannical violence the Irish Christian Brothers were allowed to inflict – as an untouchable statelet within the state – on small children in their care.

    Sheehy-Skeffington was not a lone voice in this respect.

    Poet Austin Clarke was ignored when he wrote about industrial school abuses, while Fr Edward Flanagan (founder of Boys Town in America, immortalised in the film Boys Town with Spencer Tracy) was furiously denounced in the Dail for having the audacity to tell the truth about the Irish Christian Brothers. Having seen off Fr Flanagan, the then minister for education Richard Mulcahy could easily ridicule Sheehy-Skeffington’s claims.

    Sheehy-Skeffington’s campaign ignited Tyrrell and, under his encouragement, Tyrrell began to write the testament of his seven years in Letterfrack and of his later life dealing with the consequences. Tyrrell possessed the naive belief that the Irish people actually wanted to know what was going on in Ireland and that his testament, if published, could genuinely change the sweatshop terror of institutionalised childhood. Church authorities and newspapers had ignored him, but in the early 1960s, he sat down to tell his own story, dispatching segments to Sheehy-Skeffington.

    The latter arranged, through a former student of his, Joy Rudd, to have an extract published in Hibernia magazine, and Rudd introduced Tyrrell to the Tuairim group in London, whose members included high-powered Irish politicians and academics. Tuairim was a UCD Discussion Group. Tuairim issued various pamphlets, including one about Irish children in state residential care. Many in Tuairim believed Tyrrell’s account of his experiences, but they were still not prepared to incorporate it into their report. Perhaps this rejection – not by the state and Church, but by the middle-class Irish intelligentsia – proved the final straw for Tyrrell and led to him making what he may have felt was his final outlet for protest when he set himself alight.

    – – – – –
    From the Child Abuse Commission’s Third Interim Report:
    The Chief Medical Officer found that the trials were conducted by Professor Patrick Meenan and Professor Irene Hillary, both of whom were at the time attached to the Department of Medical Microbiology at University College, Dublin [UCD]. Dr. Dunleavy was involved in the conduct of Trial 3. The trials were conducted on behalf of Wellcome, which was established in the United Kingdom.

    The Chief Medical Officer recorded that there were no statutory controls in force in this jurisdiction regarding the conduct of clinical trials at the time. The ethical standards applicable at the time were:
    * The General Medical Council (London) Guidelines.
    * The Nuremberg Code (1947).
    * The Declaration of Helsinki (1964).
    * The Statement of the Medical Research Council printed in the Report of the Medical Research Council for 1962 — 1963.

    In relation to the subject matter of the three trials, the Chief Medical Officer found that, given the diseases which the vaccines sought to counter, the decision to conduct such clinical trials was acceptable and reasonable. He further commented on the fact that the publication of two of the trials in peer review journals indicated that the editors of the journals considered that the researchers’ ethical obligations were discharged to the point that they felt that it was appropriate to publish the papers.

    The Chief Medical Officer could not reach any conclusion as to whether or not the terms of the Therapeutic Substances Act 1932 were complied with in relation to the licensing aspects of all three trial vaccines, because of paucity of documentation.

    It was noted by the Chief Medical Officer that there was no documentation or information available to clarify what arrangements were arrived at with the managers of the children’s homes or the parents of the children who were involved in Trial 1, or whether consent was obtained for the participation of children in the children’s home, who were involved in Trial 2. He referred to conflicting statements on the issue of consent in relation to Trial 3. However, he noted the clear understanding of the researchers of the requirement for consent to be obtained.
    – – – – –

    It seems to me that the only real interest UCD had in children in ‘state residential care’ was how many experimental drugs could they pump into their small bodies.

  6. The real corruption of these repeating abuses from years ago is….that it is not logical that those in power at the time
    could not have known about this! The honest truth (logic) is that the wealthy were never subjected to this evil abuse…therefore proving that the poorest were exploited by those who….let’s face it….are still being ‘lauded’ today by their ‘genetic-sludge’ which constitutes our present-day oligarchy!!

  7. Hi
    I was born in St Patrick’s Navan Road mother and Baby home, and i was Given all my Records of Clinical and Vaccine trial Reports as i had three to four polio Tetanus Vaccines including Oral Vaccines from 1 year old until I was 13 years old, and i have all the records of the files and records of every date and years, but I don’t have the Signatures of the People who gave the Injections or the Oral Vaccines as no Signature is on any of the record Medical Files, but i have all records of them and I got a Mass Chest X-ray after each injection I received or oral vaccine of polio tetanus batched numbers all the time of each batch injection received. Rita Cahill

  8. Rita,
    Can i ask how you got your records? My husband has just heard about these vaccine trials. He was in St Patricks, Navan Rd in the early 60’s- born Oct 1960 and not adopted for 3yrs.
    He has had a poor life–his adoptive father was evil and abused him and his adopted sister and also their poor mother. As a result Sean has spent years battling severe mental health problems, his sister an alchoholic.
    He is fairly well now and we have been looking at how all this came about which is how I came across the vaccine trials.
    Any info would be appreciated–Sean seems to have no records of any kind-only a letter thanking his “father” for the five shillings it cost for the adoption to be processed!! Life’s Cheap!!
    Thanks Lindsey

  9. a general bad attitude towards children in children’s ‘homes’ at all levels of society from top to bottom .. from government to the street .. bad children to be punished .. to be used and to be abused .. i recall the injections and the sugar lumps and the arms that were sore and swollen with toxic waste coming out of them .. the 3 times we all fell after being deliberately injected with measles ans chicken pox and mumps .. that was child abuse .. that was assault .. no amount of denial changes what that was (nor the effects thereafter) .. no amount of records gone “missing” changes what that was (nor the effects thereafter)child abuse with the government’s consent (implicated)

  10. Hi Rita

    The Chest X-Ray’s we received in Ferryhouse (1960s) were very regular … I don’t recall any visits of the X-Ray Vans when I was younger in another place in Kilkenny … but the X-rays could have been to do with trials or product testing but we didn’t know. We were just marched here, there and everywhere and you just had to do what you were told. Fair play that you got your records … I have yet to see anything of my own and I had some serious medical work done my hands and knees.

    • it can be said and indeed it must be said that where records are “missing” or “where not found” they have been deliberately destroyed to hide the evidence of child abuse (crimes)

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