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highs and lows

Leo Varadkar says his 2018 low point was the government's handling of the CervicalCheck scandal

Varadkar said he regrets he was so misinformed and the government didn’t make ‘better decisions’.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR says his lowest point of 2018 was the government’s handling of the CervicalCheck scandal.

Some 221 women have been affected by the CervicalCheck scandal. The latest development saw the Irish government announce that a tribunal is to be set up to deal with women’s claims. 

While not all of the recategorised smear tests can be classed as having been negligently read – some may have been reported within the limitations of the screening programme – it was not until the Vicky Phelan court case in April that the majority of women impacted found out CervicalCheck did an audit of their test results after being notified of their cancer.

Twenty of the women have since died. 

Low points

Speaking to reporters, the Taoiseach was asked what were his low points or biggest regrets in the last year.

“In terms of the low points, I don’t know of any one particular day, but definitely trying to understand and manage and respond to the Cervical Check scandal was extremely difficult,” he said, adding that it was of course “much more difficult for the women and families affected than for any politician”.

He said “trying to get basic facts” about what had happened was difficult, even for the government, stating that even when they got the facts “trying to explain them and get them across and trying to respond to issues, making the right decisions in a very frenzied period” where there was a lot of misinformation was “extremely difficulty”.

That was then “compounded by the emotion of very sick women and very distraught families,” he said.

“I don’t know if that’s a regret. I regret we didn’t know it was coming, or know more about it in advance, and might have been able to handle it a bit better and might have made some better decisions.” / YouTube

In terms of his high point of 2018, Varadkar said it was the day the referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment passed. 

I felt very privileged to be there in Dublin Castle when the votes were counted on the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment. It was one of those days when you’re reminded why you’re in politics – it’s about being a part of making things happen.

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