Tuesday 17 October 2017

'Uproar' after Pat Kenny links our cystic fibrosis rate to our strict abortion laws

Pat Kenny claimed: "People who know they're going to have children with certain disabilities don't have them"

Pat Kenny
Pat Kenny

Kathy Armstrong

A woman with cystic fibrosis has vowed never to watch of listen to Pat Kenny again after he linked the high rate of the condition here to our abortion laws.

During The Pat Kenny Show on TV3 last night, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty mentioned that we have the highest rate of CF in Europe, prompting veteran broadcaster Kenny to say, "is that linked to the abortion rate in other countries?"

When Ms Doherty said she doesn't know, Mr Kenny claimed: "People who know they're going to have children with certain disabilities don't have them."

CF is Ireland's most commonly inherited disease and primarily affects the lungs and digestive system.

Around 1 in 9 Irish people carry the altered gene that causes CF, compared to just 1 in 25 in the UK.

Jillian McNulty has CF and appeared on Kenny's show when she was campaigning for life-altering drug Orkambi to be made available to Irish patients.

Jillian (41) is devastated about Kenny's comments, telling Independent.ie: "I have been furious all day, they are ridiculous comments and totally disgusting.

"I was on the show speaking about Orkambi and told him how much it means to me, now I wonder what he actually thought, did he think my life is worth the cost of Orkambi? Does he think I'm a burden on the State?"

Jillian McNulty
Jillian McNulty

Read More: 'Our only option is to move to the Republic' - Mum of girl (10) with cystic fibrosis fuming that drug not available in NI

Jillian, who lives in Longford town, said she has complained to The Pat Kenny Show and claims that she isn't the only person who is upset by his remarks.

She said: "The whole CF community is in uproar, he should apologise.

"CF patients are fighting for their lives everyday so for him to say something like this is just stupid, he's supposed to be an educated man."

She continued to say: "That debate was about welfare, I don't know why he brought CF into it, I used to be a fan but now I'll never look at or listen to anything Pat Kenny does again."

Read More: 'It was frantic and horrifically terrifying' - mum opens up about life with son who lives with cystic fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis Ireland also stressed that the comments must be clarified.

They said in a statement: "The Pat Kenny Show has been a very important programme for highlighting the challenges for people with cystic fibrosis, services that needed to be improved and more recently access to drugs in Ireland.

"We thank Pat for this role over many years - he is a true friend of CF. 

"However, the comment made on last night's programme has caused significant concern in the CF community - we know that no offence was intended by Pat, but his comment should be clarified by the programme."

Read More: Cystic fibrosis campaigner needs funds for vital transplant

A spokeswoman for the Pat Kenny Show has apologised for "any offence or upset" caused.

They said: "Pat Kenny and his team at TV3, would like to  apologise for any offence or any upset caused to people with cystic fibrosis and their families by comments made on last night’s show.

"Any offence or upset caused was completely unintentional.

"We agree with the statement by Cystic Fibrosis Ireland today that the reason why Ireland has the highest rate of cystic fibrosis is because we have the highest incidence of people carrying the cystic fibrosis altered gene in the world.

"As acknowledged by Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, Pat Kenny is a sincere supporter of the CF community. Pat has highlighted the cause of cystic fibrosis sufferers for many years and will continue to do so."

For more information please visit www.cfireland.ie

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