'The Taoiseach has promised me the State will endeavour to settle all CervicalCheck cases through mediation' - Vicky Phelan
The Government will, if necessary, introduce legislation to ensure a public commission of inquiry is held into the CervicalCheck scandal, Vicky Phelan has said following a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Ms Phelan, whose court case shone a light on the CervicalCheck scandal, met for the first time with Mr Varadkar to urge the government to intervene in ongoing court cases involving women caught up with the scandal.
Mr Varadkar this week moved to clarify earlier assurances he gave that women affected by the controversy would not be forced to go to court.
Meanwhile, a High Court Judge, Charles Meenan, has been appointed by the State to examine alternative resolution mechanisms to adversarial court proceedings for those affected. He will report to the Government in two months and will engage with those affected.
"The Taoiseach has promised me that he meant what he said and the State is going to endeavour to settle all cases through mediation," Vicky Phelan said after the meeting.
"Where mediation doesn't work and labs are contesting an alternative dispute resolution mechanism will be sculpted out.”
Ms Phelan said the Fine Gael leader confirmed that the State Claims Agency is willing to return to mediation talks in relation to the case of Ruth Morrissey when it returns in September. He told her an offer could not have been made previously because expert reports were not ready.
The campaigner said she “will be back” on the issue of ensuring women do not have to face the “harrowing” experience of attending court as she had.
Earlier Ms Phelan revealed she plans to take a break from her activism on the CervicalCheck scandal, saying she has been accused of trying to bring down the screening programme.
Ms Phelan said that she is "deeply disturbed" by some people and their attitude towards some of the affected women and their families.
The Limerick woman said the Taoiseach confirmed a public commission of inquiry is the preferred option. This is something she and others affected by the scandal have called for.
In a statement after the meeting Mr Varadkar said: “I want to thank Vicky Phelan for taking the time to meet with me today. Vicky and all those affected by the CervicalCheck controversy have made a deep impression on the Irish public and on me.
“Notwithstanding that parties always retain the right to go to Court, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms must be found which avoid causing unnecessary distress for the women and their loved ones.”