Tuesday 18 September 2018

'Heads may roll but it's important they're the right heads' - Varadkar says people might get fired over cervical smear scandal

Simon Harris and Leo Varadkar Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Simon Harris and Leo Varadkar Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
John Downing

John Downing

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has said that people deemed responsible for shortcomings in the cancer smear test debacle may lose their jobs.

Mr Varadkar is again under pressure for shortcomings in the Government response to the 14-day-old scandal.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said thousands of women are still awaiting a callback from the special help line.

He said the Taoiseach has promised a new smear test free of charge to women who wanted it – but that doctors are not up to date on how this would work.

Mr Martin claims the responses appear panicked and not thought through.

“It’s a bit like you’re making it up as you go along,” the Fianna Fáil leader said.

Tony O'Brien Director General of the Health Service Executive. Photo: PA Wire
Tony O'Brien Director General of the Health Service Executive. Photo: PA Wire

Sinn Féin leader, Mary Lou McDonald, repeated her call for HSE director general Tony O’Brien to be removed from his post. She said the way the political established “circled the wagons” to defend Mr O’Brien was shameful.

The Taoiseach repeated his pledge for a free smear test for all women who want it. He said there will be a redress scheme but first there must inquiries to establish the facts - and the same principle applied to people losing their jobs.

“It may be the case that more heads will roll in the period ahead. But it’s important that they are the right heads,” Mr Varadkar said.

Referring to Tony O’Brien, the Taoiseach argued that this should not be about any one man - it should be about the thousands of women.

“Mr O’Brien has about eight weeks to serve and his focus should be on putting things right in that time,” the Taoiseach said.

Mr Varadkar said advertisements will be placed seeking a new director general of the Health Service Executive in the coming weeks.

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