Simon Harris says he will "demand the answers" over Cervical Check scandal

He says he hopes some of the 209 women affected have since recovered

Simon Harris says he will "demand the answers" over Cervical Check scandal

Health Minister Simon Harris speaking to the media in the Government Press Centre on the Cervical Check Scandal in Government Buildings, Dublin | Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

The Health Minister Simon Harris says he is happy to account for his actions in response to the Cervical Check scandal.

He says he hopes some of the 209 women affected have since recovered.

He was speaking after Friday's Cabinet meeting, where a range of measures were announced to help the women affected.

They include free medical cards for all women affected or their next of kin, counselling services and covering the cost of any medicines prescribed by their doctor.

When asked what budget has been put aside for the supports, Minister Harris said whatever resources are needed will be provided.

Meanwhile, John Connaghan has been appointed as interim director-general of the HSE following Tony O'Brien's decision to step down in the wake of the cervical screening controversy.

Minister Harris said he could not yet provide a breakdown of the condition of all of the women.

"My expectation is that thankfully some of these women would have gotten better - sadly we know some of these women have died, 17, and we know that some women are receiving on-going treatment.

"I don't have the exact breakdown - I suppose when you get into levels of breakdown you possibly run the risk of identify people.

"But I will ask the Serious Incident Management Team to try and provide an update to people on that.

"Hopefully some people are better; sadly cervical cancer does take some lives, but also with cervical cancer an be treated".

"Responsibilities and accountability"

He also said he is determined to get to the bottom of 'who knew what and when'.

"I think politicians can be held to account for what they knew, and what they did with what they knew.

"I think there are responsibilities and accountability that aren't just for politicians - there are other people who work in the public service, in the civil service in jobs that are also well remunerated that also have accountability.

"I'm happy to account for my actions based on what I knew and what I did when I knew - you simply can't account for what you didn't know.

"But we can and we will demand the answers as to why that was the case".