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'I'm so proud, I can walk, talk and dance' – boy with cerebral palsy gets €3.6m

A seven-year-old boy with cerebral palsy has secured an interim €3.6m payment under a settlement of his action over the circumstances of his birth at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH).

Outside court, Iarlaith Ó Cinnéide, who the High Court heard has received an advanced form of physiotherapy, smiled as he told journalists: “I’m so proud of my progress, I can walk and talk and eat and dance.”

The €3.6m payment is for his care needs over the next five years after which the matter will return to court.

The child has disabilities including a spastic gait but is attending school and has good intellectual ability and insight. He had asked his parents whether the settlement of the case “will mean I won’t have cerebral palsy any more”.

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Liam Reidy SC, instructed by Cantillons Solicitors, for the child, secured approval of the settlement, made against the HSE, from Mr Justice Kevin Cross. An earlier €250,000 payment from the State Claims Agency is included.

Counsel outlined the child was born at CUMH on April 3, 2012, and the case arose from a brain injury suffered during the course of birth and the second stage of labour and thereafter.

Liability and causation were eventually admitted on June 27, 2018, he said.

The core claims of negligence included an obstetric consultant should have been called prior to Iarlaith’s birth at 10.40am after a CTG trace indicated issues at about 10am. Their case was, had that been done, early intervention would have happened and the child would not have suffered a brain injury, counsel said. Other claims included there was “substandard” monitoring of the foetal heart rate and that, at one time the CTG was monitoring the mother’s heart rate rather than the foetal rate.

Iarlaith’s mother Deborah Ui Chinnéide told the judge of her efforts to establish what had happened to the child during labour and up to his birth, ultimately leading to an external review.

Despite criticisms in that review of what happened, a defence denying liability was provided the same month and liability was admitted only a year later, she said. She agreed, after birth, the child received “amazing” care from the hospital’s neonatal team which may have saved his life.

Iarlaith is a “tenacious, very gregarious and loving” child and gets great support from his brothers, Somahirle and Tadhg, she said.

The family have concerns whether the advanced physiotherapy Iarlaith had received will continue as only one person here provides it and she may be retiring soon, she added. The physiotherapist is Vera Bohner-Martin, HSE senior paediatric physiotherapist in north Cork.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Cross praised the family who had “turned up trumps” for Iarlaith who has made “extraordinary strides”. Through his mother, Iarlaith, of Templenoe, Fermoy, Co Cork, sued the HSE over the circumstances of his birth.

In a statement outside court, Fiachra Ó Cinnéide said the settlement marked “the end of a long struggle in getting justice for our son Iarlaith”.

“Unfortunately, it took six years, and a court case, for the HSE to admit liability. We have yet to receive an apology.”

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