Friday 23 August 2019

Varadkar offers to meet CervicalCheck campaigners to discuss Dail apology

Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)
Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)

Ralph Riegel

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has offered to meet with CervicalCheck campaigners in person to discuss the wording of a proposed Dail apology.

The offer came as campaigners for women hit by the CervicalCheck scandal expressed disappointment at the latest IT blunder in the United States - and the ongoing failure of the Government to deliver a fulsome Dail apology for what happened.

Mr Varadkar, speaking in Wexford, acknowledged that the latest IT blunder which involved women's families not being updated on the latest delay in test results should not have happened.

He stressed that while the wording of a proposed Dail apology has been under negotiation between Health Minister Simon Harris and Cervical Check victims support campaigners, he will personally meet with campaigners to resolve the matter if necessary.

Campaigners including Stephen Teap, who lost his wife Irene to cervical cancer after her smear test results were misread, expressed disappointment that a Dail apology was not delivered before the summer recess.

Campaigners said they remain in the dark about the proposed Dail apology.

"I think the IT glitch should not have happened," the Taoiseach said.

"I think that the patient representatives and the Minister (Simon Harris) should have been informed much earlier."

"But it is something that is being resolved and will be resolved, I am told, by the end of this week to make sure people get their test results."

"On the question of the apology, there have been several apologies already - certainly I have apologised and the Health Service Executive (HSE) have apologised."

"But I think what is being discussed now is a much more formal apology in the Dail."

However, because of the summer recess, any apology cannot be delivered in the Dail before September.

"I have asked Minister Harris to engage with the support group on that because I want to make sure that the apology we give is one that is adequate and is accepted."

"There would be no point in doing it otherwise," the Taoiseach said.

Mr Varadkar added that, if required, he would personally meet with CervicalCheck campaigners to agree on such an apology.

"I am happy to do that - but the initial engagement is happening between Minister Harris and the support group."

"He is the one that has built up the relationship and it is a very strong relationship with them."

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