Tuesday 20 November 2018

'Mismanaged from the get-go' - Micheál Martin criticises government handling of CervicalCheck scandal

Vicky Phelan and Emma Mhic Mhathúna are two of the women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy
Vicky Phelan and Emma Mhic Mhathúna are two of the women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

FIANNA Fáil leader Micheál Martin has accused the government of mis-managing the cervical cancer scandal from the start and of saying anything that would get them out of political trouble.

Mr Martin also heavily criticised the leaking of aspects of the Scally report into what happened in the cervical cancer screening service.

Parts of the scoping report by Dr Gabriel Scally have been leaked ahead of its publication of the report tomorrow including his view that he does not believe there is a need to hold a Commission of Investigation into what happened.

Health Minister Simon Harris has described the leak as "extremely regrettable", adding that it should not have happened. Mr Harris has denied he was behind the leak.

Speaking to reporters at his party’s think-in meeting Mr Martin branded the leak as “cynical and cruel behaviour” and that the victims of the scandal should  have seen the results first.

He questioned how it happened and suggested it could be more of the “spin, spin, spin focus of this government”.

He suggested that the government may not want a Commission of Investigation and claimed this could be a motivation for the leak.

He said he didn’t know if this was the case but asked if Mr Harris could publicly say who in government had read the report.

Mr Martin said he wants to read the report himself before coming to a conclusion on whether or not there should be a Commission of Investigation.

He also hit out at the government, arguing: “I think what we’re witnessing here is evidence of a scandal that has been mismanaged from the get-go by the minister and the government.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Mark Condren
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Mark Condren

“They said things in the immediate aftermath of the [scandal] breaking…

“They said anything that would get them out of what they perceived to be political embarrassment, trouble or whatever.

“They said things like 'we will give indemnity in the courts' to such an extent that the entire cervical cancer screening programme could be in jeopardy.”

Mr Martin claimed: “From the moment minister Harris was briefed by officials I think he got this wrong in terms of managing it and dealing with it in a comprehensive, professional way.”

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