Triumph of evil: medical experiments on children in care of the Irish state
By mór rígan Posted on August 31, 2010
After the heartbreaking revelations about the treatment of children in Irish industrial schools, documented in the Ryan Report, it is difficult to imagine how any action by the state or the Catholic Church could continue to shock. Children in industrial schools, run by the Church on behalf of the state, were routinely enslaved, raped, beaten, tortured and starved. Now, it has come to light, that some of these children were also used as test subjects in experimental medical trials.
As far as it is possible to tell, three trials were conducted on behalf of The Wellcome Foundation (now GlaxoSmithKline), by Professor Irene Hillery and Professor Patrick Meenan, from the department of Medical Microbiology in University College Dublin, and other doctors. The first trial investigated what would happen if four vaccines, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus and polio, were combined in one overall four-in-one shot. Trial two measured the effectiveness of a intra-nasal rubella vaccine compared to the standard injection. The third trial was to compare commercially available batches of the three-in-one vaccine, Trivax and Trivax AD, with that of a modified vaccine prepared for the trial.
The first trial was published by the British Medical Journal. Fifty two infants were used as trial subjects, thirty six of whom were subsequently reexamined. The researchers ended the article with
We are indebted to the medical officers in charge of the children’s homes-namely, Dr. V. Coffey, Dr. B. Cullen, Dr. J. Finn, Dr. B. O’Sullivan, and Dr. R. Sutton-for permission to carry out this investigation on infants under their care
That is the crux of the matter. The children were nominally in the care of the state, de facto in the care of the religious orders. Parents were not informed. Consent was not given. Informed consent was non-existent. The Nuremberg code lays out Directives for Human Experimentation and the second standard is as follows:
The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision. This latter element requires that before the acceptance of an affirmative decision by the experimental subject there should be made known to him the nature, duration, and purpose of the experiment; the method and means by which it is to be conducted; all inconveniences and hazards reasonable to be expected; and the effects upon his health or person which may possibly come from his participation in the experiment. The duty and responsibility for ascertaining the quality of the consent rests upon each individual who initiates, directs or engages in the experiment. It is a personal duty and responsibility which may not be delegated to another with impunity.
Children cannot consent. The informed consent of parents was not sought. The children were in the care of the state. The religious orders gave permission for children in their care to be used in experimental vaccine testing. The experiments were a violation of human rights. The survivors, decades later, are only now being acknowledged. The state has not made any expression of remorse or apology. Neither have the religious orders. In addition, these three trials are the known trials. Many others may have been conducted on the bodies of children but have been buried in paperwork.
Rumours of these experimental trials floated for years among journalists but it was not until 2000 that the “Report On Three Clinical Trials Involving Babies And Children In Institutional Settings, 1960/61, 1970 and 1973” was produced. It is the foundation of all public knowledge regarding the trials. The report is not available to the public on government websites but can be read on The God Squad by Paddy Doyle.
In 2003 the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was deemed by the Supreme Court to have exceeded its mandate by including a division to investigate vaccine trials, following legal challenges by two of the doctors that conducted the trials.
Since then, there has been no further enquiry. For all practical purposes, there was no investigation of why the State and Church permitted medical experiments without consent or information on infants and children in their care. It appears that the state has no interest in investigating severe violations of human rights. Following media interest, the Department of Health and Children has released a statement to confirm that they are in the process of locating their files relating to the trials but Minister for Health Mary Harney has ruled out the possibility of a further investigation.
Mari Steed, a survivor of the industrial school system and the vaccine trials, announced that she and three others are preparing a class action lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline in the United States because the Irish government will not act to protect its citizens. Mari was nine months old when she was first given the “one-in-four” vaccine. By the age of two, she had received the experimental injection four times. Her mother was told the jabs were routine.
Since her announcement, other survivors have come forward to lobby the Department of Health and Children to release all the files with regard to this violation of human rights. Legal action will be taken against both the pharmaceutical company and the Sacred Heart Order. Through the courts, it is possible that the survivors will at least receive an admission that their human rights were violated because such an admission will not come from the state.
The 1916 Proclamation of the Republic states the necessity of cherishing all the children of the nation equallyand article 42 clause 5 of the Constitution reads as follows
In exceptional cases, where the parents for physical or moral reasons fail in their duty towards their children, the State as guardian of the common good, by appropriate means shall endeavour to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child.
All the laws and declarations in the world do not change the fact that Ireland did and does not cherish her children equally. The most vulnerable in society have been treated as less than human. That the state will not acknowledge the impact of its decisions or take the necessary responsibility is abhorrent. That children in the care of the state are disappearing to this day; the children are still placed in adult psychiatric wards; that schools are rat infested, underfunded and still under control of the church; that foster parents are not being screened; and that children are left on the street because temporary accommodation cannot be found, only demonstrates that the state continues to violate Irish laws and international human rights laws.