Simon Harris to press for inquiry in spite of Scally report view

Health Minister Simon Harris is to defy the view of the Scally Report and will press ahead with a Commission of Investigation into the CervicalCheck Inquiry.

Leaked details of the report, which were described as “heartbreaking” and “disrespectful” by the women and families directly impacted by the smear test scandal, show that Gabriel Scally does not believe that a promised commission of investigation is now required.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Mr Harris faced a barrage of criticism over the leaking of the document which had only been seen by a handful of top-level officials in both their departments as well as the Attorney General’s Office.

Dr Scally had today planned to brief Vicky Phelan, widow Stephen Teap, and patient Lorraine Walsh on the details of the 200-page document.

However, this meeting was hastily brought forward and Dr Scally travelled to Limerick yesterday afternoon to go through his findings with all three in person.

The report, which took Dr Scally and his team four months to compile with numerous difficulties in accessing HSE documents, contains 50 recommendations.

It is understood that these detailed recommendations take in the need to review other screening services; governance issues; the laboratory services that CervicalCheck use as well systems to make sure that any future issues would immediately dealt with through an open disclosure system.

It is expected that Mr Harris would move to implement these recommendations, which will be signed off on at Cabinet today, as quickly as possible and in tandem with a commission of investigation. However, some of the suggestions may take some time to put in place.

Reacting, the Taoiseach described the leak as “disgusting”.

Speaking in Co Donegal, he said: “This is not a normal story, this is not a scoop. This is a very sensitive issue that affects some women who are very ill and a lot of families who are grieving — and this is something I am appalled to find out this has happened.

However, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin claimed that 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.

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