HSE chief accuses TD of "causing hysteria" over Cervical Check crisis

Marc MacSharry suggested there has been "zero accountability"

HSE chief accuses TD of "causing hysteria" over Cervical Check crisis

HSE Director-General Tony O'Brien appears before the Public Accounts Committee | Oireachtas screenshot

The director-general of the Health Service Executive (HSE) Tony O'Brien has accused a TD of trying to cause hysteria over the Cervical Check scandal.

Mr O'Brien has appeared before the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC), where he was accused of dancing on the head of a pin to avoid resigning.

He says he did not know about women not being told of the audits of their smear tests, and there is no way smear testing can be infallible.

Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry attacked Mr O'Brien's stance - saying this was one of the worst scandals in the history of the State.

Mr MacSharry put it to Mr O'Brien: "What you're implying is 'we entered a system, we set it up, it did a lot of good work and there were some causalities.

"That's the implication of what you're saying... that is the implication".

Mr O'Brien replied: "No, that's what you're saying - that's what you're saying.

"You need to step back".

Deputy MacSharry added: "In fairness Mr O'Brien, none of this is personal Mr O'Brien, but we do have to hold people to account - and there is zero accountability it seems to me".

"You want to claim credit for the successes, but when the wheels came off and people are dying and a nation of women are terrified this morning you want to say 'We've done a lot of good work, let's have a scoping exercise - and when I'm safely, as set up by the minister and given permission, in the USA on some boardroom, he'll find out what really happened".

Mr O'Brien then said: "Why don't we both wait until the outcome of the expert review, and then you can reflect and I can reflect.

"At the moment, you are causing hysteria".

In the Dáil, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said there has been no circling of the wagons around Mr O'Brien, but he should continue as head of the HSE.

Minister Donohoe said: "Our only agenda is to do the right thing, to establish what has happened, there are no wagons being circled, there's no circle being created".

The issue will re-emerge in the Oireachtas next week with Sinn Féin's motion of no confidence in Mr O'Brien.