Tuesday 16 October 2018

Leo Varadkar dismisses questions on proposal for Emma Mhic Mhathuna to 'choreograph' CervicalCheck scandal

Emma Mhic Mhathúna
Emma Mhic Mhathúna

Wayne O’Connor

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has dismissed Dáil questions today on proposals cancer victim Emma Mhic Mhathuna would meet him to help choreograph the CervicalCheck scandal in the Government’s favour.

She had been sent a letter by a Fine Gael businessman outlining how she could become a “government advocate” for cancer patients.

Mr Varadkar was asked about the proposals today by Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald.

He dismissed the questions, saying he dealt with them in Monday’s newspapers.

It was reported yesterday that Mr Varadkar had distanced himself from the plan to make the terminally ill Ms Mhic Mhathuna a government advocate.

The proposals were made by Sean O’Connor, a publican with strong links to Minister of State Brendan Griffin.

Mr O’Connor sent the mother-of-five a memo which he intended to also send to Mr Varadkar.

Mr Varadkar said he was disgusted when he read about the proposals in the Sunday Independent and moved to distance himself from the business man, also known as Ó Conchúir.

The proposal has since drastically backfired and left Ms Mhic Mhathúna feeling "manipulated" and "shaken".

On Sunday Mr Varadkar said: "I don't know Sean Ó Conchúir. I believe he's a personal friend of Emma Nic Mathúna but he's not a friend of mine, he doesn't speak to me. He's not an emissary and when I organise meetings with people, I organise them through my private office and not the local publican."

He has now declined to address the issue in the Dáil.

He also declined to take a question about the promotion of Dr Stephanie O’Keeffe, a HSE executive overseeing CervicalCheck and who failed to track if women with cancer were told they were the victim of a wrong test result.

Dr O'Keeffe was the €156,296-a-year HSE director for health and wellness at the time the patient reviews, confirming the blunder, were secretly paused in 2016. She is now director of strategic planning and transformation after being given wider responsibilities in January.

Mr Varadkar refused to take questions on this matter because he had not read about it in today’s newspaper.

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