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smear test scandal

'Either stand up or get out': Varadkar called on to explain why CervicalCheck cases ending up in court

In May, Varadkar said court cases relating to the health scandal would be be dealt with through mediation.

LAST UPDATE | 30 Jul 2018

FILE PHOTO The State Claims Agency (SCA) has said that it wants to resolve the case of Ruth Morrissey through mediation, and has written to the two laboratories acting as co-defendants in the case to try to resolve the matter out of court END Ruth Morrissey, who was before the High Court last week - the latest woman impacted by the CervicalCheck scandal to go to court. Leah Farrell Leah Farrell

THE TAOISEACH NEEDS to “come out of hiding” and explain why the promise he made that no woman caught up in the Cervical Check controversy would be dragged through the courts has not been delivered upon, said Labour Health spokesperson Alan Kelly.

On 11 May, Varadkar said pending court cases relating to the health scandal would be dealt with through mediation.

However, since making that statement a number of cases have been before the High Court.

Last week, Ruth Morrissey, who had two smear tests incorrectly reported and is now suffering from terminal cervical cancer, slammed the State Claims Agency for seeking to “misrepresent the sham mediation” in her case.

She and her husband Paul Morrissey said they only heard of the offer of mediation through a media statement last week.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, Kelly said what happened to Ruth Morrissey was a “disgrace heaped upon a national disgrace”.

“What is happening is unforgivable. The Taoiseach is in hiding, this government is in hiding, what they promised is not what has transpired,” he said.

‘Over promised’ 

Kelly said the government “over promised” in May, and it should come out and admit that now.

He said the victims of the CervicalCheck controversy, such as Vicky Phelan and Stephen Teap are angry and want accountability.

Teap, whose wife was one of 17 women who passed away without knowing she had received two incorrect cervical smear tests, tweeted over the weekend that Leo Varadkar should “either stand up or get out”.

He added:

People like Ruth [Morrissey] need a leader to stand up for them which you’re failing to do. If you can’t sort this then maybe it’s time you give us an opportunity to find someone who can.

Phelan, who exposed the cancer screening scandal, confirmed on Saturday that she will be meeting the Taoiseach to discuss Ruth Morrissey’s ”disgraceful situation”. She said she wants to find a “meaningful approach to resolve this dispute”.

Speaking on Miriam on RTÉ Radio One today, she said:

“I felt that I would keep the meeting with the Taoiseach for a time that I needed it and the time is now.

“He was the one who gave me the assurances and commitments that no other woman would have to court and give evidence.”

Phelan said the Taoiseach needs to take back control from the labs which are currently being sued for damages. She said there are another ”40 something cases” due to come to court.

She said Varadkar must make good on his commitment to the people of Ireland, adding that it cannot do so, he should not be “in the position’s he’s in”.

Kelly accused the Taoiseach of “misleading” the victims, their families, and the public by stating that no one would have to go to court.

“It is unforgivable… he needs to man up and explain how Ruth ended up in court in the first place and make sure the comments he made in the first place are honoured,” he concluded.

‘Mediation offered’ 

A statement from Health Minister Simon Harris states the government has been “very clear that we do not want to see any woman having to go to court and mediation is now offered in every case, as promised”.

Mediation should and must be conducted in a sensitive, compassionate and speedy manner, so the women and families can get the outcome they need.
While mediation may not always succeed at first, it must remain an option in all cases.
The State participates in a sensitive and compassionate manner, as has happened in two previous cases.

In relation to the Ruth Morrissey’s case he said the State has accepted liability for non-disclosure of clinical audit findings.

However, he explained there are two labs also involved as defendants.‎

“Where differences exist between parties the mediation process is designed to address these. I believe there is a responsibility to use this process in a compassionate and sensitive manner. I welcome the fact that the State Claims Agency has requested the labs to recommence mediation,” added the minister.

He added:

I am sorry that Ruth and her family have had this distressing experience when they are already going through so much.
We will learn from this difficulty and how to deal with it if it arises in future.
I have been very clear on the importance of mediation and the SCA is acting on that. I firmly believe mediation offers the most sensitive and successful means of achieving a timely resolution of this case.

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