Harris: Everything possible being done regarding CervicalCheck scandal

Harris: Everything possible being done regarding CervicalCheck scandal

Elaine Loughlin, Political Correspondent

The Health Minister has moved to reassure women that "everything that could possibly be done is being done" in relation to the CervicalCheck scandal.

Simon Harris has said he is "angry and upset" that Ruth Morrissey, who is undergoing cancer treatment, was forced to go to court this week.

It comes as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced the appointment of High Court judge Charles Meenan to examine compensation options so that the women impacted by the cervical cancer controversy and their families do not have to go to court.

Mr Harris said the Government had responded in a "heartfelt" way in saying back in May that they didn't want anyone to have to take legal action, adding: "We all promised that because that's what we wanted to happen".

"Who in their right mind would want to see a terminally ill person in court?

"So he [the Taoiseach] gave a commitment that every woman would be able to avail of mediation.

"Clearly we hit a roadblock, a very serious blockage," Mr Harris told RTE radio.

Mr Harris said he hopes the proposals put forward by Judge Meenan within two months would be a "game changer" to develop a more compassionate redress system for women and their families.

"Nobody wants to see an adversarial system where women have to go to court."

But he warned: "This is more complex than a lot of issues because it is not just the State, the State can put its hands up on the non-disclosure issue, the State can admit liability, the State could possibly even compensate in relation to that but there is a big piece here in relation to whether there was negligence.

"We have to make sure that there is a way of establishing negligence because we cannot become probably the first country in the world to pay out on [cases within the] limitations," he said.

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