Sinn Féin TD for Cavan-Monaghan Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has today voiced his long standing vexation with the failure of previous Governments to heed Cervical Cancer warnings.
Teachta Ó Caoláin and other opposition spokespeople for Health had highlighted the risks of moving the laboratory processing of cervical screen tests to the United States and elsewhere over a decade ago.
Deputy Ó Caoláin stated;
“I want to welcome today’s apology by An Taoiseach on behalf of the State to the ‘cervical check’ women and families who have suffered so grievously.
“I hope that it brings some measure of comfort and recognition to the thousands of women and their families who suffered because of a State that was unlistening and unresponsive.
“I would ask the Minister for Health if he is confident that when members of the Dáil and citizens raise their voices in genuine concern, that they are being listened to and heeded. He may say he is, but I am definitely not.
“While the full impact of this outsourcing debacle came into sharp media focus with the passing of Emma Mhic Mhathúna and other women, this controversy goes back more than a decade.
“The very same State that is apologising in the Dáil today was either well aware or was made aware of the risks involved in its move to privatisation under the then Minister for Health Mary Harney.
“I raised those serious concerns with Minister Harney in the Dáil chamber back in 2008.
“Addressing her directly I told her that she would rather ‘listen to corporate executives in the private health business’ and that her HSE had awarded the contract for cervical cancer tests to “Quest Diagnostics, a US company that has an unacceptably high rate of errors.’
“She wouldn’t listen. Innocent citizens have paid a terrible price as a consequence.
“Others such as Dr. Gibbons and the Well Woman Centre also expressed concern at the practices of these laboratories.
“Has that same culture of subservience to the market forces that drive the private health sector really changed?
“While apologies can serve to recognise the pain and suffering of the affected individuals and their families, sincere contrition should include evidence of a commitment to change.
“This change should be obvious and visible to those impacted by the scandal. Such evidence would, I believe, provide meaningful solace to all those caught up in this dreadful and disgraceful scandal.
“Sadly, there is no obvious change, only the continuing mistakes and arrogant ignoring of passionate, informed voices crying out for health justice for all.
“This is not a happy day. It is just another day in a long saga of sad days that appear to have no end”.