Cancer jab uptake below average in McGrath's region
Teenage girls attending schools in the north-Dublin region - which includes the constituency of Disability Minister Finian McGrath - have a below-average uptake of the vaccine that helps prevent cervical cancer, figures reveal.
Mr McGrath was forced to do a U-turn over the weekend and defend the safety of the HPV vaccine after he earlier said questions remained about its potential side-effects.
The vaccine has been cleared as safe by doctors in Ireland, health authorities in Europe and the World Health Organisation.
Conditions such as chronic fatigue can occur naturally in teenage girls and they are not linked to the vaccine.
A high uptake is vital to prevent the girls developing cervical cancer as adults, a disease that causes 90 deaths annually.
Mr McGrath, who represents the constituency of Dublin Bay North, has been criticised for his earlier comments that could damage a new HSE campaign to increase uptake of the vaccine after it fell to 50pc nationally in the last school year.
Last year, while in opposition, he raised concern about the vaccine and called for funding for the anti-HPV vaccine group, Regret.
HSE figures for the academic year 2015-2016 show schools with below-average uptake in Dublin north centre, Dublin north, Dublin west and Dublin north west.
It is also low in Cavan, Monaghan, Sligo, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon, Donegal, west Cork, north Cork, north and south Lee in Cork, Kerry, Tipperary south, Longford, Westmeath and Meath.
Mr McGrath's Independent colleague, Children's Minister Katherine Zappone, dismissed calls by Labour TD Alan Kelly for him to resign. "If I got a euro for every time Alan Kelly has said since we came into Government someone should resign...
"It's a different Government now and Alan needs to live up to it.
"It's not what it was in the old time."