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Vicky Phelan apologises to Leo Varadkar after referring to him as 'a gay man' during criticism

Phelan made the comments in an interview with The Irish Times.

Campaigner Vicky Phelan.
Campaigner Vicky Phelan.
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

VICKY PHELAN HAS apologised after referring to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as “a gay man” when criticising him over the CervicalCheck scandal.

Phelan made the remarks in an interview with The Irish Times on the one-year anniversary of her speech outside the High Court when she received damages due to incorrect smear test results.

Phelan has been an outspoken critic of the government’s response to the CervicalCheck scandal and has been particularly critical of Varadkar.

Earlier this year, she described the Taoiseach as being “all talk and no action” while also praising Health Minister Simon Harris.

Speaking to the Irish Times, Phelan delivered more criticism of Varadkar, saying he “just doesn’t get it”.

“The classic example is him going on Six One News saying no woman would ever have to go into court, and look what’s happened. That’s still the case and not only that, the tribunal has not yet been established in order for that not to happen.”

“I don’t think he gets it at all. And it’s not just because he’s a gay man, I just don’t think he gets it,” Phelan added.

Following up on these comments after the interview’s publication, Phelan told RTÉ’s Today with Miriam that she apologised to the Taoiseach and claimed she was “taken out of context”.

“I’m critical of the government in general, I think some of what I said was taken out of context and I would like to apologise to the Taoiseach for the comment in today’s article,” she said

What I said, you know I was trying to make the point that the issues faced by the women are wide-ranging. They involve input from a wide-range of players from the Department of Health, HSE, legal profession, medical profession and the Attorney General’s office.

“And the inertia on behalf of one player can hold everyone up and that’s exactly what has happened in the last 12 months,” she added.

Phelan’s criticism of the Taoiseach related to his pledge that women affected by the scandal would not have to go to court.

A non-adversarial system such as this has not been established yet, in part because of the difficulties if the labs involved do not wish to take part in mediation.

Varadkar has previously acknowledged this difficulty and said he regretted “not being clearer” in his pledge.

Late last year, the government promised to establish an independent statutory tribunal to deal with claims arising from the CervicalCheck scandal.

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Rónán Duffy

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