CervicalCheck scandal dominates Leader's Questions amid fresh calls for HSE chief's resignation

CervicalCheck scandal dominates Leader's Questions amid fresh calls for HSE chief's resignation

The tragic case of a terminally ill mother-of-five from Kerry dominated Leaders' Questions in the Dáil, amid fresh calls for HSE chief Tony O'Brien to resign.

A Morning Ireland interview with Emma Mhic Mhathúna on RTÉ Radio One was the item asked about by all Opposition leaders to Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe.

Ms Mhic Mhathúna is one of scores of Irish women who were wrongly told they had normal smear tests through the CervicalCheck screening programme, prompting the Government to set up a scoping inquiry into the scandal.

Fianna Fáil's Dara Calleary appeared to become emotional when he referred to the interview in which Ms Mhic Mhathúna said she feared her young baby would not remember her after she dies.

“I don’t even know if my little baby is going to remember me. This isn’t fair. And no amount of money can replace this,” she said.

Mr Calleary repeated her comments and called on the Government to "stop dithering" and act "to end the torment of the women at the heart of the scandal".

“The time for defiant defence is over, the time to defend the realm is over. Please stop,” Mr Calleary said.

Sinn Féin's Louise O'Reilly asked Mr Donohoe whether he retains confidence in Mr O'Brien.

“The only agenda this Government has is to establish fully what has happened, that is why we have established an inquiry, that is why a number of people are no longer in place and why we are putting in place supports for those women affected,” the minister said in response.

He said everyone who listened to the interview on the radio could not help but be stopped in their tracks by what they heard.

Labour TD Alan Kelly, who is the vice-chair of the Public Accounts Committee, raised a memo sent to Mr O'Brien in 2016 about the pending scandal and called on Mr Donohoe to ensure the State covers all costs with rectifying the scandal.

Mr Kelly said: “It is a continuous drip drip of information. There was no follow-up in terms of accountability to ensure clinicians spoke to their patients.

"It just stopped and that is just wrong from an accountability point of view."

In her interview, she said: “The Government needs to go; they’re not actually capable of minding us. I’m dying and I didn’t need to die.”

"If my smear test was read right in 2013 I wouldn’t be here in this situation today,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Ms Mhic Mhathúna will have further tests tomorrow to determine how long left she has to live.

“How long exactly I’ve got. They’ll know more when they get the results. All my doctors - my GP, my gynaecologist, my oncologist, they’re a fabulous team. If there’s anything available they’ll find it,” she said.

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