By Olivia Kelleher
A campaign for accountability and change in relation to the Cervical Cancer controversy cannot afford to lose momentum with the women of the country needing to ensure that the issue is kept on the agenda, the organiser of a rally in Cork warned today.
Hundreds of women and men gathered at Bishop Lucey Park this afternoon at 3pm and marched to the city centre bearing placards which said "Women's Lives Matter."
One of the individuals behind the protest, Lisa Ryan Bermingham, said the women impacted by faults in Cervical Check were showing tremendous courage and composure in the face of horrific trauma.
She admitted she was furious at the extent of the scandal.
"They (the HSE) took our lives for granted at the end of the day. We are not just standing up for women around today. We are standing up for future generations.
"Can you trust (the Government) with anything? We want to keep it in the limelight even if we have to protest every month.
"We need the people to support us. We have to be in this for the long haul. We have to go up outside that Dail."
Lisa said Cork based widower, Stephen Teap, who lost his wife Irene to cervical cancer amid deficiencies in her screening had reached out to them sending a "beautiful message."
"He was robbed of his wife and their kids of a mother. Her parents were robbed of their daughter."
Blogger Nikola Barrett, who brought people together for the march, said she was infuriated by the situation.
"People are angry. They are very saddened and upset as well. We decided action has to happen. The message is accountability, consequences and change. CervicalCheck has to be overhauled and torn down and rebuilt. We want no more outsourcing of the smears."
— Sunnyreigns I love Roman reigns 3000 (@sunbabe08) May 19, 2018
Nikola says women are fed up of the health sector.
"The carnage and devastation that has been left behind. There was no regard for them (the women) at all when the decision was made not to disclose the information about their health. Something has to be done."
She said the putting of faces to the names of the victims of the scandal had galavanised her to action.
Meanwhile, a mother and daughter were among the attendees at the vigil.
Linda Keating from Shandon in Cork said she was outraged by how women such as Vicky Phelan and Emma Mhic Mhathuna were treated.
"I think it is a disgrace about how the women were treated. I am here in solidarity for the women who have passed and the women who are currently going through treatment. It is all young women. It is horrific."
Her mother Christine Meldrum from Ballyvolane in Cork said whole swathes of the HSE needed to be fired.
"It is getting worse and worse. It is disgraceful and they need to go."
A number of women wore pink for the march. The march was originally due to be held outside St Finbarr's Hospital on the South Douglas road in Cork.
However, it was moved to the city centre because the interest required a bigger venue.
— C103 (@C103Cork) May 19, 2018
Earlier: Protests to take place in Dublin and Cork following CervicalCheck scandal
Protests are being planned in Cork and Dublin today, in response to the fall-out from the CervicalCheck Scandal.
In Dublin, a group of concerned women called Protest Cervical Check will meet outside the Dáil at noon - after setting up social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook.
In Cork, a march is taking place at 3pm from Bishop Lucey Park - with the organisers urging marchers to wear bright pink.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says the Government has been taken unprepared by the controversy and have been grappling to deal with it.
He said: "When it comes to a lot of issues, whether it's Brexit or the budget or even Storm Ophelia or Storm Emma, we knew those things were coming, we were able to prepare for them.
"This was very different. We are only finding out facts at the same time as the media were or the opposition were.
"We weren't able to respond to it in the way we might like to have so I understand the dissatisfaction that a lot of people feel around that."
- Digital Desk