March 5, 2024

Hero Kilkenny campaigner Vicky has her eye on seat in the Seanad

Kilkenny cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan has said she wants to become an independent senator.

The Mooncoin mother-of-two, who published her best-selling memoir Overcoming last September, said she has been thinking of entering politics for some time, but needed to get approval from her doctors.

Vicky, who is currently director of literacy development at Waterford Institute of Technology, came to prominence in 2018 when she went public after receiving a €2.5 million settlement over the mishandling of her smear tests under the CervicalCheck programme.

She said she has had her eye on entering politics as an independent since the court case was settled but first had to win approval from her doctors.

Vicky said she recently approached her consultant John Crown, who is a former independent senator, and that he assured her she could “absolutely” do the job.

“Because of my medical situation I had to check whether or not this is something I could do,” Vicky told the Sunday Times.

“Part of that was worrying if [Crown] tells me I can’t. He could have said, ‘No, Vicky. I don’t think you should do this.’ That would have meant he didn’t think I had a long time left.”

Vicky said she had turned down several opportunities because of health concerns but believed that becoming a senator would help her work as an advocate for patients. She said the “final straw” for her came last month when Mark Molloy, a patient advocate, resigned his position on the Health Service Executive (HSE) board over his frustration at how the health service was being run.

Phelan said she was considering running as an independent on one of the Seanad panels where votes are cast by county councillors. But if this does not succeed she will ask whoever becomes taoiseach to use one of their 11 Seanad nominations to appoint her to the upper house.

“I think my profile will give me the opportunity to be one of those independent senators,” she said.

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