The Taoiseach and Minister for Health are facing calls to explain why women affected by the Cervical Check scandal are still ending up in court.
Last night, the family of Ruth Morrissey, who was given two wrongful readings of her cervical smear test before being diagnosed with cancer, slammed the State over its handling of her case.
They described attempts to reach an agreement through mediation as a “sham” and spoke of their “deep hurt” at what they said was a deliberate attempt by the State to misrepresent what happened.
The case this week became the second of its kind to appear before the courts – after Vicky Phelan’s ordeal three months ago.
Ms Phelan’s experience brought the Cervical Check scandal to light – and saw Leo Varadkar and Simon Harris promising the Dáil that no other women would be dragged through the courts over the scandal.
Pictured (LtoR) Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Health Minister Simon Harris and Minister of State for Disabilities Finian McGrath at a press conference on the Cervical Check scandal, 11-05-2018. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews
Labour’s health spokesperson Alan Kelly said it is a "disgrace."
“They obviously, as a Government, have learned nothing from the Vicky Phelan case – or Emma Mhic Mhathúna,” he said.
“It is absolutely disgraceful; it is wrong.
“In the Dáil the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste told all of us that this would not happen – it is now happening.
“Also, the State Claims Agency told me in Committee that this would not be allowed to happen and they were going to follow the instructions of the Taoiseach and Tánaiste – they are not.”
He said Ruth Morrissey's experience this week was "a disgrace heaped upon a national disgrace."
He said the Taoiseach "promised wholeheartedly" that the State would take over all aspects of the cases to ensure no more women weer forced go through their private health deatails in a public court setting.
"This has not happened," he said.
"Instead Ruth Morrissey had to face a defence team of 17 lawyers earlier this week. A disgrace.
He said the Taoiseach "needs to clearly come out and say what he is going to do now."
"Either the State Claims Agency can take over all these cases to avoid court appearances for the women affected or they can’t," he said.
"It would be a disgrace if they can’t.
"He needs to talk to us today and come out of hiding. The women affected by this deserve to know now. We need honesty from the Taoiseach not spin.”
Labour Party health spokesperson Alan Kelly with the party’s housing spokesperson Jan O’Sullivan and Senator Ivana Bacik on the plinth at Leinster House, 02-05-2018. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said minister Harris has been "very clear he does not want to see any woman having to go to court."
"Mediation is now offered in every case, as it was in this one," she said.
"While mediation may not always succeed at first it remains an option and the Minister wants to see this case come out of court and return to mediation so that a settlement can be sought in a sensitive way.
"He has made his wishes in relation to this very clearly known."
She said the State Claims Agency yesterday wrote to both laboratories involved in the Morrissey case asking them to join mediation talks as soon as possible.