Vicky Phelan to take a break from campaigning on Cervical Check scandal

The mother-of-two says people should work together to restore trust in the screening programme

Vicky Phelan to take a break from campaigning on Cervical Check scandal

Vicky Phelan. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Vicky Phelan has announced that she will be taking a break from campaigning on the Cervical Check scandal after today.

Ms Phelan, whose case brought the scandal to light, said she was "deeply disturbed by the lack of empathy in some quarters" towards her and other women affected.

She said she has faced criticism from some people for 'bringing down the cervical screening programme'.

She is due to meet with the Taoiseach later today.

It comes after Leo Varadkar was on Monday forced to row back on his promise that no other women caught up in the scandal would have to go to court.

He has said he hopes Ms Phelan can give him some insight on what still needs to happen.

He said the Government is currently aiming to put in place a “system of redress and compensation that avoids women having to take a stand in court” while also “restoring confidence in our cervical cancer screening programme and making sure that we get to the truth and the facts which we still don’t have months later.”

Yesterday, Mr Varadkar once again apologised to the women affected by the scandal and admitted he could not stand over his promise that no other women would have to take the stand.

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.

Mr Varadkar said “mediation is being offered in every single case” and said it is happening or is about to happen” with Ms Morrissey’s case.

He admitted however, that mediation will not always be the answer.

"Perhaps mediation is not the Holy Grail or the panacea that maybe we thought it was a few months ago,” he said.

"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."

He also said he is also willing to hold any Commission of Investigation in public, but warned that some of those giving evidence may not wish to do so in full public view.