October 18, 2021

Government promises to act on CervicalCheck screening following scathing attack from WIT’s Vicky Phelan

The Government has promised to improve CervicalCheck Screening and get a tribunal into the scandal up and running, following a scathing attack over the weekend from cancer campaigner and WIT staff member, Vicky Phelan.

In an article in the Sunday Independent, Ms Phelan said she wanted “action, change and accountability” over the CervicalCheck scandal.

Writing the piece in the week following the death of her friend and fellow campaigner Ruth Morrissey, Ms Phelan said to An Taoiseach Micheál Martin, “Don’t wait until I’m dead to do the right thing and right the wrongs of the past.”

Ms Phelan is angered by the lack of progress the Government has made on The Scally report, the independent findings into the CervicalCheck scandal, which she believes the more critical recommendations have not been addressed.

The mum-of-two from Mooncoin, county Kilkenny, called on the Government to make changes to the CervicalCheck tribunal and to introducing legislation to amend the Civil Liability Act.

Responding to the criticism yesterday evening, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar promised that the Government will improve the cervical screening programme and promised to put legislation to speed up the process before the Dáil.

“We have put aside funding to develop a cervical check lab here in Ireland,” the Tánaiste said, “so that we can build up capacity to do the tests in Ireland rather than overseas.”

Deputy Varadkar also promised to get the CervicalCheck tribunal started and apologised for the fact he had not established it in his time as Taoiseach.

“The CervicalCheck tribunal is established in law but isn’t up and running. That needs to be up and running now.

“I think one of the things that was achieved by Ruth Morrissey, in the judgment that she got in the Supreme Court, is that it sets out a framework against which the State claims agencies can settle cases and settle them quickly and they should do that.

“Where there is a dispute of the facts then you need some sort of hearing and, unfortunately, that’s unavoidable and I wish I’d realised that a bit better two years ago,’ he concluded.

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