April 4, 2020

‘Leo Varadkar is all talk and no action’ – hero Kilkenny cancer campaigner Vicky

HERO cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan has hit out at the Taoiseach over the Government’s response to the needs of cervical cancer patients since she exposed the CervicalCheck controversy last year.

The Kilkenny Person of the Year, who is from Mooncoin, spoke out before she was awarded the Fitzgerald Bible Bruff Award for 2018 over the weekend.

She had words of praise for Health Minister Simon Harris for his efforts to improve screening standards and provide better treatment for cervical cancer patients.

But in a stinging criticism of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, she added: “I wouldn’t have that same confidence in the Taoiseach, put it that way. He doesn’t inspire me with confidence.

“I think he is very much all talk and no action, and I just don’t get the sense that he thinks this is as important as what it is really, when you consider half the population in the country are women, and every woman in this country has to have a smear.”

In response, a spokesman for the Taoiseach said: “The Taoiseach has the highest regard for Vicky Phelan. When they met last year he was impressed by her courage, and by her commitment to the CervicalCheck programme. Her input and advice continues to guide the Government’s response.

“The Taoiseach and Government are very much guided and act on the advice of [Mr] Harris when it comes to CervicalCheck as he is the line Minister dealing with it.

“The Taoiseach, like Vicky, has said he wants something good to come out of this controversy. That means implementing the Scally report in full and working to ensure that cervical cancer becomes a rare disease through the expansion of the HPV vaccine to boys, and improving screening by becoming one of the first countries in the world to bring in the new smear test. The Taoiseach and [Mr] Harris working together have ensured both these things will happen this year.”


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