Speaking to the Dáil today, Independent TD, Denis Naughton, called for UCD and Trinity College to make a formal apology for their part in the vaccine trials which were conducted in mother-baby-homes between 1960 and 1973. 

The TD for Roscommon–Galway said that many of the researchers involved with the vaccine trials in mother-baby-homes “were also involved in scientific publications which helped them secure promotions and status within the scientific community and would also have been of benefit to the universities involved.” Naughton concluded that “We must now see an apology from the two universities involved, namely, UCD and Trinity College Dublin”.

The Mother and Baby Homes Commission Report, which was published on the 12th of January, revealed that Professor Patrick Meenan and Dr Irene Hillery – both from University College Dublin – carried out a number of trials on children without the consent of their mothers which violated medical standards. Former Trinity lecturer, Dr Victoria Coffey, trialled a measles vaccine created by GlaxoSmithKline without a valid research license.

According to the report, the Department did not want clinical trials being carried out on children in homes. However, Naughton claimed that it did not seem to make any difference to the clinicians whether the Department gave consent or not. 

Naughton said that “There was a clear benefit to the clinicians involved in these trials. Direct payments are referenced. At the very least, funding was provided for research facilities, which would assist those researchers in securing scientific publications.” He also noted that the scientific publications on the trials were peer-reviewed and asked why the confirmation of consent was not set as a precondition of publication.

Naughton concluded that the findings on the vaccine trials raise many questions and that the victims must be supported to get answers and apologies right across the board.

The College Tribune reached out to UCD but did not receive a comment at the time of publishing.

Emma Hanrahan – Assistant News Editor