'It seared the soul of our country': Emotional scenes as Emma Mhic Mhathúna's interview raised in the Dáil

“It is a stain on all our doors, it is a stain on all of us,” Labour’s Alan Kelly told his Dáil colleagues today.
‘I am dying and I don’t need to die… I don’t even know if my baby will remember me. I don’t even know if my baby will remember me.’ Minister, the time for defiant defence is over.

FIANNA FÁIL’S DEPUTY leader Dara Calleary’s voice wavered as he became visibly upset speaking about Emma Mhic Mhathúna’s interview on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today.

Emma, a mother of five children, had a delayed cervical cancer diagnosis uncovered in a recent review by the HSE. This week she has been told that her cancer has returned and is terminal.

She said her family is “devastated” by the news and questioned who is being held accountable for the ongoing controversy.

Speaking about the interview this morning, Calleary said it “seared the soul of our country”.

Throughout the debate of the last two weeks, he said women’s voices have been absent. / YouTube

With his voice trembling, Calleary read out Emma’s own words in which she said:

I don’t even know if my baby will remember me.

Calleary pointed out that Emma said the government are not “capable of looking after us”.

He appealed to Finance and Public Expenditure Minister, Paschal Donohoe (who was taking Leaders’ Questions today) to show leadership in the ongoing scandal.

“For the sake of our country” show that you are capable of dealing with this, he said.


Donohoe said he also heard the interview this morning and he found it “harrowing” to listen to.

He added that there are few words he could offer to recognise the scale of tragedy Emma and her family are grappling with.

The minister said he felt the same emotion as many did listening to the interview this morning.

His world “slowed down and stopped” when he heard the anguish in Emma’s voice, he said.

Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly said she was very upset in her car on the way to Leinster House today.

False negative results

She told the minister she took a call from another woman impacted by the CervicalCheck scandal today. A mother of two, who had three false negative smear test results, who has since be diagnosed with cervical cancer. Women want to see someone held to account, she said.

Labour’s Alan Kelly said he could not help but think of his own family when he was listening to the Morning Ireland interview.

“It is a stain on all our doors, it is a stain on all of us,” said the Tipperary TD as he looked around the House.

He called on the government to offer full support to all the women affected, and asked if all or part of any future statutory inquiry will be public. He said many women want to tell their story.

The minister said he personally has no problem with inquiry being public, but said it will be up to the judge in charge. He added that not all women will be in favour of giving evidence in public.

Kelly also called for a random sampling and retesting of smear tests over the last three years to restore confidence in the screening process.

Donohoe reiterated that the government is committed to establishing what happened and who is accountable. On the issue of whether HSE boss Tony O’Brien should step aside, the minister said he should remain in his role until he is due to leave.

“We don’t need words, we don’t need promises, we don’t need shouting or roaring… we need action,” said Calleary.

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