September 28, 2023

‘Humiliation, disrespect and deceit’ – Taoiseach apologises to Vicky Phelan and others ‘destroyed’ by cancer scandal


A ‘Litany of failure’ is how Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described the cervical check screening process as he apologised to the women in Ireland whose lives were “destroyed” by the cancer scandal.

One of those women Mr Varadkar was talking about was Kilkenny woman and cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan, who was in Dáil Éireann to hear the apology from the Taoiseach.

In a comprehensive apology, Mr Varadkar said: “As Taoiseach, on behalf of the State, I apologise to the women and their loved ones who suffered from a litany of failures in how cervical screening in our country operated over many years.

“We are sorry for; failures of clinical governance; failures of leadership and management; failure to tell the whole truth and do so in a timely manner; the humiliation, disrespect and deceit, the false reassurance and the attempts to play down the seriousness of this debacle.”

In a special sitting of the Dáil this afternoon, Mr Varadkar delivered a state apology to all the women and their families, who have been affected by the cervical screening crisis.

Mr Varadkar said: “Today’s apology is too late for some who were affected. For others, it will never be enough.

“Today’s apology is offered to all the people the State let down. And to the families who paid the price for those failings.

“Today we say sorry to those whose lives were shattered, those whose lives were destroyed, and those whose lives could have been different.”

The Taoiseach admitted the cervical check screening programme was not fit for purpose, and rather than fix the problem, the state papered over the cracks.

“A broken service, broken promises, broken lives –a debacle that left a country heartbroken. A system that was doomed to fail.

“We apologise: to our wives, our daughters, our sisters, our mothers.”

He promised the state would never make the same mistakes again and quoted Kilkenny’s hero campaigner Vicky Phelan.

“Now, in the words of Vicky Phelan, I want something good to come out of all of this.

“Speaking as a doctor, as well as a politician, a brother and a son, I know the lessons we must learn.

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