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cervical screening

CervicalCheck: 310 women take legal route despite pledges they can avoid court, Dáil hears

Peadar Tóibín said that just eight women are using the CervicalCheck tribunal.

THE DÁIL HAS heard that a total of 310 women or families affected by the CervicalCheck scandal have launched legal proceedings, including 38 cases involving women who have already died. 

This figure is compared to just eight who are using the Tribunal established to deal with claims. 

Despite initial pledges from the previous government that mediation would be provided for women who had been affected by the CervicalCheck programme, some are still choosing the legal route. 

Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD said during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil today that women “are voting with their feet” and not engaging with it. 

The tribunal was set up in October 2020 but there has been criticism that the Tribunal is “not fit for purpose”. 

Tóibín today referenced Galway woman Patricia Carrick, who received an apology from Taoiseach over a missed cervical cancer diagnosis, but died last year.

“Patricia was one of many women who had to battle in the courts for justice, often suffering from great ill health, right up to the point of losing their lives.  The Taoiseach stood up in the house and apologised to Patricia on behalf of the State,” he said. 

Statistics released to me this week by the State Claims Agency show that since those apologies and promises that no woman would be forced to go through court, a total of 310 women or families have, in fact, been forced to go through the courts or take legal routes to achieve justice. Tragically, 38 of those claims relate to women who have already died.  A total of 77 cases have been lodged this year alone.  Meanwhile, the CervicalCheck tribunal, which was established by the Minister, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, has so far received eight claims. 

In response, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath said that the Tribunal was put in place “to support women to get justice without having to go through what can be the extraordinarily difficult process, in an adversarial environment, of going to a court of law.”

He acknowledged that the number of women availing of the Tribunal was “undoubtedly very low” but that this is not the final figure. 

“I think it is almost certainly the case that some women and their families are waiting to see how the process works out. If changes are required, then of course the minister is open to any such changes to improve the system that is there,” he said.

“We do not want women to have to go to court to get justice on any matters relating to CervicalCheck.”

He added: “The recent extension of the statutory deadline for making a claim to the tribunal will ensure that any woman or family eligible for the tribunal will have sufficient time to consider whether to make a claim.”

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