Leah Farrell/
vicky phelan

TDs pay tribute in the Dáil to 'fearless' Vicky Phelan

The CervicalCheck campaigner died yesterday.

TDS HAVE PAID tribute to the late Vicky Phelan in the Dáil, with government leaders pledging to see through her wishes for Ireland’s healthcare system, and opposition politicians calling for action on shortcomings.

TDs stood for a minute’s silence after party leaders paid tribute to the CervicalCheck campaigner, who died yesterday.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar repeated his apology to the women affected by the CervicalCheck scandal, and said there should be accountability around the mistakes made that caused it.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said Vicky’s life was “stolen” by a “vicious disease” and “profound failures of the state, of government and of the HSE.”

During Leaders’ Questions, McDonald quizzed the Taoiseach and Tánaiste on how Vicky’s hopes for better healthcare in Ireland would be realised, saying: “The best way to honour Vicky’s memory is to complete the work that she did.

“That means bringing the testing of screening samples back to Ireland. Testing continues to be outsourced to labs in the United States.

“Everyone in the Dáil is committed to ensuring that we never again see the failures of the CervicalCheck scandal so we’re gonna have to work together to deliver it the change that Vicky wanted to see.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that the national cervical screening centre at the Coombe maternity hospital in Dublin would open by the end of the year.

“The building works for the new lab were completed in October of this year,” said Martin, “and it’s expected to become operational by the end of the year.”

The Taoiseach added that the government’s aim is to “eliminate and eradicate and cervical cancer” and that this can be achieved “through the HPV vaccine programme and an effective screening programme”.

Meanwhile, Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin described Vicky Phelan as a “tireless fighter for women, as a courageous mother, a fearless CervicalCheck campaigner and someone whose generosity of spirit captured the whole nation”.

She added: “Her refusal to sign a confidentiality clause in her court action over misread smear tests ultimately exposed what was a system failure of CervicalCheck.”

“Vicky has done a great service to all women in this country and I don’t think it is possible yet to fully grasp the scale of her contribution to our society,” Minister Martin said.

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall told the Dáil: “Without her courageous decision to go public about what had happened to her at great personal cost, the likelihood is that none of us would have discovered the serious issues with the screening programme that was subsequently uncovered.”

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