Varadkar open to public Commission of Investigation into Cervical Check scandal

The Taoiseach has said mediation might not be the only answer

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says he is open to a Commission of Investigation into the Cervical Check controversy being held in public.

Mr Varadkar has also once again insisted that mediation is being offered in every single case affected by the scandal.

The Taoiseach has come under fire this week, after he rowed back on promises made in May that no woman caught up in the Cervical Check controversy would have to go to court.

Limerick woman Ruth Morrissey had to appear before the High Court during her case last week.

On Tuesday Mr Varadkar insisted that mediation was the preferred option - but admitted that it might not be the only answer.

"Perhaps mediation is not the holy grail or the panacea that maybe we thought it was a few moths ago.

"A few months ago I certainly was much more confident that it would be possible to settle all cases by mediation, thus avoiding a court trial.

"But it's become evident to me that that may not be the case - so we need to explore perhaps other mechanisms, other alternatives to going through the court process.

"And we've had other mechanisms - redress schemes, for example - for similar health scandals in the past".

'Consequences' of public hearing

He said he is also willing to hold any Commission of Investigation in public, but said some of those giving evidence may feel otherwise.

"It is important that, if we do that, everyone understands what the consequences of that would be.

"There will be some people who would prefer to give their evidence in private, and maybe don't want to appear in public.

"At the same time, there are lots of people we would perhaps like to see appearing in public to see what they have to say".

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said its time the Taoiseach lives up to his promises:

"I'm really conscious for people living this nightmare, the last thing they want is a squabble - a party political squabble.

"The Taoiseach made very clear commitments to women and their families, commitments that were designed to give them some level of comfort and to minimise the stress that they are enduring - and those commitments have not been met".

Mr Varadkar is due to meet with Vicky Phelan on Wednesday amid criticism over his handling of the controversy.

With reporting from Sean Defoe and Paul Quinn