Guest post on unethical vaccine experiments in Ireland

A comment that came in late on a post from last week, and I didn’t want it to go overlooked. By Mari Steed.

In August 2011, after filing a DPA request with GSK, the HSE South (record-holders for Sacred Heart Adoption Society files), I was able to confirm that I was part of the active 4-in-one vaccine trials group (1960-61 at Bessboro). And despite that myself and two others were actively sought out and contacted by the law firm Shannon Solicitors, who seemed to firmly believe we had a case, solicitor Vincent Shannon later dumped us like a hot potato with little explanation given.

Life and the Magdalene Laundries campaign intervened, so I set this issue aside for the nonce. But I am now ready to take it up again, most likely as one of just many human rights abuses under the umbrella of Ireland’s forced adoption schemes, including trafficking of children abroad.

For the skeptics, I’m not out to skin GSK or science (being an ardent science fan). However, all of my experimental injections were given prior to October 1961, when, according to the Irish Dept. of Foreign Affairs, my mother signed formal relinquishment. We were both resident at Bessboro until December 1961. That means that legally I was still her child and no permission was ever sought from her for my participation in the trials. And no follow-up was ever done with my adoptive parents in the US to insure I suffered no ill effects. Bad science? You betcha. Watch this space…we’re not done yet.


  1. says

    Bad science, and definitely a violation of human rights. But probably not illegal: the Declaration of Helsinki, an international agreement among medical researchers to ban such abuses, was not adopted until 1964 and some nations waited decades before working them into national law (the US adopted it partially in 1981 as the Common Rule in response to the horrific Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, and did not fully incorporated it into federal statute until 1991.)

    I haven’t been able to find when Ireland adopted the Declaration into its laws, but I doubt it was before the late 60s. Almost certainly, consent of any kind was not necessary under Irish law in 1961.

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