October 22, 2020
Government must intervene to stop cruel treatment of women in CervicalCheck tribunal – Louise O’Reilly TD

Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly has urged the Government to listen to the voices of women affected by the CervicalCheck scandal and ensure they are not subjected to adversarial tribunals.

Speaking in the Dáil today, she urged the Tánaiste to ensure the women’s concerns are listened to and addressed.

Teachta O’Reilly said: 

“Twelve months ago, Tánaiste, you delivered a formal State apology for the ‘litany of failures’ in the respect of CervicalCheck and said ‘we are sorry for the humiliation, disrespect and deceit’ meted out to the hundreds of women affected by the controversy. 

“This came in the aftermath of the State joining US laboratories that were at fault in dragging a terminally-ill woman through the courts and fighting tooth and nail every step of the way. It was accurately described as ‘deathbed litigation’. 

“You gave a promise to the women concerned that this would never happen again, and that an alternative to the courts would be provided for women to seek justice. 

“The truth is that this adversarial and aggressive approach has been maintained. Vicky Phelan has now come forward to express her shock and anger that women and their families have been let down by the State yet again this week. 

“Minister Stephen Donnelly has now written to women and their families to say that the tribunal will be established next week. Against their wishes and pleas for a non-adversarial route, the Minister has flatly ignored these calls. 

“Instead, he is insisting that labs must be involved in proceedings if taken before the Tribunal. This is entirely wrong. The government should not be joining with negligent labs in fighting these women. 

“A decent government would stand up for them, protect them and ensure justice is done. These are women who have been let down time and again. 

“And now the Minister for Health intends to proceed on a basis that is not acceptable to the women involved. Vicky Phelan has said that she is pleading with the Minister to redouble efforts to sit down again with members of the 221 Plus group to identify an alternative solution of redress which is what they have asked for, and what they deserve.  

“Will you accept that there is a failure here to live up to the promise you gave as Taoiseach that women would not be dragged through the courts? Will you accept this has caused huge distress and upset for women and their families – all of which could have been avoided? 

“Finally, will you intervene now ahead of this tribunal being established next week and ensure this cruel treatment of women is stopped immediately?” 

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