Fianna Fáil calls for Taoiseach apology over cervical scandal "false promises"

Leo Varadkar admitted yesterday he could have been 'more clear' in his promise

Fianna Fáil calls for Taoiseach apology over cervical scandal "false promises"

Stephen Donnelly with Michéal Martin. Image: Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie

Fianna Fáil is calling on the Taoiseach to apologise to women caught up in the cervical cancer scandal after he appeared to row back on his promises to them.

Yesterday, Leo Varadkar admitted he could have been ‘more clear’ when he promised that no woman affected by the scandal would have to go to court to get compensation.

Both Mr Varadkar and the Health Minister Simon Harris made the pledge when the scandal came to light back in May.

Last week, the family of Ruth Morrissey, who was given two wrongful readings of her cervical smear test before being diagnosed with cancer, slammed the State over its handling of her case.

They described attempts to reach an agreement through mediation as a “sham” and spoke of their “deep hurt” at what they said was a deliberate attempt by the State to misrepresent what happened.

Apology

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Stephen Donnelly said the women deserve a full explanation from the Taoiseach.

“If the Taoiseach of the day stands up and he says – unambiguously, repeatedly, on his own Twitter video and in the Dáil and on national television – if he stands up and says ‘these women will not have to go to court’ and then comes out a few months later and essentially is saying ‘well what I meant was, they may have to go to court,’ I don’t think that is OK,” he said.

“I think what he owes these women and their families is a full explanation and an apology.”

Explanation

He said the Taoiseach now “has to do one of two things.”

“He has got to back it up and give these women and their families the comfort and the protection that he promised them - or he has to be absolutely honest about why he made false promises in the first place,” he said.

Ms Morrissey’s was the second case of its kind to appear before the courts – after Vicky Phelan’s ordeal brought the scandal to light three months ago.

"Cynical and self-serving"

The Morrissey family spoke out on Friday after the State Claims Agency (SCA) issued a press release calling for renewed negotiations on a settlement in her case.

In the release, the agency insisted it aims to resolve cases through mediation where possible.

In response the family’s solicitor said the State had shown no interest in resolving the Morrissey’s case before “the media focus on their ordeal in court this week.”

He said the State previously “rejected several dates for mediation” and only agreed to meet the couple after the Judge invited it to do so.

“A meaningful approach to dispute resolution begins with sincerity and not with a cynical and self-serving press release,” he said.

The Department of Health said Minister Harris had “made his wishes in relation to this” adding that he has been “very clear he does not want to see any woman having to go to court."