Saturday 20 July 2019

Frustrated victims protest after Health Minister snubs meeting

Let down: Jennifer and Conor Blighe were unhappy Simon Harris cancelled the meeting. Picture: Collins
Let down: Jennifer and Conor Blighe were unhappy Simon Harris cancelled the meeting. Picture: Collins
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Victims of the CervicalCheck scandal staged a protest at Leinster House yesterday after Health Minister Simon Harris cancelled a meeting with them at short notice.

Members of the 221+ CervicalCheck patient support group had been due to meet Mr Harris yesterday to discuss developments in the case, eight months after the mishandling of smear test results first emerged.

But they were told on Monday evening that he would have to postpone the meeting because he needed to be in the Seanad for the abortion legislation debate.

Among the protesters were Dublin couple Jennifer and Conor Blighe.

Ms Blighe was given two wrong test results after undergoing cervical screening in 2010 and 2013.

She was only diagnosed with cervical cancer in March last year.

"It is very disappointing because we had sought a meeting with the minister to highlight various issues," said Mr Blighe.

He said one of the issues they had wanted to raise was the ongoing delay some women are still experiencing in securing access to their slides.

Mr Blighe said the last-minute cancellation had caused serious disruption to several women and their families, some of whom had travelled to Dublin on Monday in order to ensure that they were ready for the meeting.

"To us, he has more important business to attend to than be in the Seanad regarding the abortion bill," he said.

"Already 20 women have died and many more are very unwell and could not make the journey."

One of the leading campaigners on the issue, Stephen Teap, also criticised the cancellation, saying it was "insensitive to those who have been through enough".

A spokeswoman for the minister apologised and said the meeting was rescheduled to January 31.

She said the postponement was "unfortunately, unavoidable due to the significant time commitment required for the passage of legislation on termination of pregnancy in the Seanad".

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News