Saturday 18 August 2018

State is allied with labs and not women, says solicitor for victims

(stock photo)
(stock photo)
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

A solicitor acting on behalf of a number of victims of the CervicalCheck scandal has accused the State of "aligning with the labs" after it moved to clarify its position on suspected negligence in the cases of those affected.

Cian O'Carroll, who represented Vicky Phelan and Emma Mhic Mhathúna, and is currently representing Ruth Morrissey, told the Irish Independent that he believes, despite a raft of announcements this week in relation to the Government's response, that "we are no further along".

He said he welcomed as a sign of progresss the appointment of High Court Judge, Mr Justice Charles Meenan, who has been tasked with examining alternative means of resolving the disputes outside of adversarial court cases.

He said it was always welcome to have a cool head examining alternative solutions - but he took issue with the tenor of a statement issued by Health Minister Simon Harris's department. He claimed it showed the State was aligning with the labs at the centre of the scandal and not with the women as it had pledged it would.

The statement was made following Mr O'Carroll's claim that negligence was a factor in the "vast, vast majority of cases".

He has clarified that his statement was based on an expert review of around 40 cases to date where it was found there was unacceptably low standard of care in the reading of those slides, which amounts to a breach of duty.

The department moved to point out that negligence could only be determined appropriately in court, and noted that no cases have been decided in court to date.

Three cases have been settled.

However, Mr O'Carroll has suggested that this amounted to the State making the "labs' case for them".

Mr O'Carroll noted that the State will have a limited role to play going forward, if the labs at the centre of a claim wished to defend the case fully in court.

Mr Harris did not respond to queries at the time of writing. The Taoiseach's office declined to comment.

Irish Independent

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