Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

17.48 4 Feb 2021


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Labour leader Alan Kelly has warned 'up to 200 more women' are facing what Lynsey Bennett has gone through if laws around civil liability aren't changed.

He said it's 'upsetting and scandalous' that women are still finding themselves having to go to court over their cervical smear cases.

Ms Bennett - a 32-year-old mother-of-two with advanced cervical cancer - settled her case yesterday following a legal battle over the handling of her smear tests.

She has spoken of the 'great relief and peace' the settlement has brought, as she now has financial security for her two daughters.

The exact details of the settlement have not been disclosed, and there was no admission of liability from the HSE or the lab involved.

Following the CervicalCheck scandal, then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said no woman involved should have to go to court.

Since then a number of women have had to go through legal proceedings, the latest being Ms Bennett.

The now Tánaiste told the Dáil today he's sorry Lynsey Bennett's case against the HSE wasn't settled sooner, although stressed not all cases can avoid legal proceedings.

On today's Hard Shoulder, Deputy Kelly said it's 'immoral and upsetting' that such cases are still coming before the courts.

He said: “I’ve been on this road with a lot of people now for a number of years, and to think this is still going on… it’s scandalous and an absolutely shocking indictment of our country.

“We should not be at this stage, and surely as a State there has to be a mechanism whereby we can deal with these cases sensitively and quickly.

“I accept that everyone has a job to do - the State Claims Agency has a job to do as well. But surely they can be spoken to or directed that this doesn’t have to [happen]... there shouldn’t be another Lynsey."

He said Mr Varadkar 'categorically' said this would not happen, but cases are still coming up before the courts.

"Surely this Government can stand up"

Citing the case of the late Ruth Morrissey, Deputy Kelly said that campaigner was “delighted in one sense she got that judgement, to change the lives of future women making those cases”.

However, he claimed the Government has not acted on a recommendation from the Chief Justice to get legislation in place to change the bill.

He says he's submitted legislation to tackle the problem, but there's been no movement from the Government.

He said: “I don’t need to own the bill, I just want it to happen.

"It's complex, there's no doubt about that - but we've brought in complex legislation overnight in this State.

“Imagine up to 200 more - and potentially more - women are looking at what Lynsey went through. All different circumstances, all different stages of what they’re going through.

“What did Vicky Phelan fight for? Surely this Government can stand up, honour her, honour Lynsey and make the changes so women don’t have to go through this.”

Main image: File photo of Alan Kelly. Picture by: Sasko Lazarov/Phtocallireland

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