Micheál Martin: Government may have 'leaked' CervicalCheck recommendations

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has claimed the Government may have leaked recommendations not to hold a commission of investigation into the cervical cancer test scandal because they do not want any more questions on what happened.

Mr Martin made the allegation at the start of Fianna Fáil's two day pre-Dáil think in at Malahide, north Dublin, as he lashed out at the "downright cynicism" surrounding the decision to leak out parts of the document before families were informed.

On Tuesday morning, it emerged that the still unpublished report into the cervical cancer tests scandal has concluded that there is no need for a previously agreed commission of investigation into what happened.

The claim is made in the 200-page report by Dr Gabriel Scally which is due to be signed off on by cabinet on Wednesday, alongside a series of other recommendations surrounding governance, transparency during errors and ongoing use of US laboratories.

Dr Gabriel Scally
Dr Gabriel Scally

Asked about the suggestion a commission of investigation - which Government, Fianna Fáil, Labour, Sinn Féin and other parties agreed to in spring - may not now be needed according to leaked sections of the report, Mr Martin said there is no proof to back this view up as yet.

And in a targeted attack on both Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Simon Harris, Mr Martin said the "downright cynicism" from anyone who leaked the suggestion before the report is given to affected families suggests the Government is keen to close down any further questions into what happened.

"I haven’t seen the report. I think it is entirely wrong that comprehensive report of this kind, that a significant part of it gets leaked and then we’re all meant to comment on that particular part. I wonder why that significant conclusion [was leaked]," Mr Martin told reporters at the Grand Hotel in Malahide.

"The Minister is now saying it’s [the commission of investigation rejection] not a conclusion, it’s a personal opinion [by Dr Scally]. That kind of nonsense now we’re fed up of, we’re fed up of the playacting.

Everything has to be leaked by this Government. Everything has to be about spin. They seem incapable, it’s either a combination of immaturity or downright cynicism that they behave in this manner.

"The people are fed up with this kind of political theatre, game playing, trying to set the agenda all the time. Everyday, we’ll leak this, we’ll spin it this way.

"Maybe the Government don’t want a commission of inquiry, and that’s why they got this out to set the scene for that particular debate," Mr Martin said.

The Fianna Fáil leader said Mr Harris "needs to be honest" about who leaked the comments in the still unpublished report, saying the limited number of people who had access to the document on Monday evening means "it shouldn't be rocket science" and warning what happened "is particularly cruel to the victims of this scandal".

Asked if Fianna Fáil still supports the need for a commission of investigation into the cervical cancer tests crisis in light of Dr Scally's leaked suggestion an inquiry is not needed, Mr Martin declined to give a view and said "I'm going to read the report first".

Fianna Fail leader, Michael Martin pictured speaking this morning at the Grand Hotel, Malahide for the first day of a Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party think-in. Picture Colin Keegan
Fianna Fail leader, Michael Martin pictured speaking this morning at the Grand Hotel, Malahide for the first day of a Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party think-in. Picture Colin Keegan

However, he added: "Originally I was in favour of a Health Information Quality Authority inquiry. The Minister caved in, in the Dáil, on the floor of the House and said we’re having a commission because of pressure from the opposition.

"Everyone said we would have a commission of inquiry in the aftermath of Scally. I’d like to read what Mr Scally has to say.

"From the moment that Minister Harris was briefed by officials, I think he got this wrong, in terms of managing it and dealing with it in a comprehensive, professional way," Mr Martin said.

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