‘Answers’ for cancer victim’s husband

The husband of a woman who was twice given incorrect smear test results and who subsequently died of cervical cancer deserves answers and all the support the State can offer, the Tánaiste said yesterday.

Simon Coveney revealed that Stephen Teap, from Carrigaline in Co Cork, is a neighbour of his, and that he spoke to him and met him for an hour on Saturday.

Father-of-two Mr Teap added his voice to calls for HSE boss Tony O’Brien to be sacked or resign.

His wife Irene was diagnosed with stage two cancer in 2015 and died on July 26 last year, aged 35. Mr Teap was only informed last week that two of her smear tests had produced false negative results in 2010 and 2013.

The widower said that, regardless of who is personally responsible, Mr O’Brien should step down with immediate effect.

“I want Tony O’Brien gone and to help get rid of the panic that’s out there,” said Mr Teap. “Tony O’Brien cannot remain on while an investigation into CervicalCheck takes place.”

Yesterday, Mr Coveney said Mr Teap has every right to be angry.

“We as a State and a Government need to respond to ensure that he is provided with answers to legitimate questions,” he said.

He is demanding that we learn lessons from his tragedy so that it doesn’t happen again, and he is demanding that we do what’s necessary to provide reassurance to women that they can trust the screening system in terms of consistency and results.

“I’ve given him a commitment that I’ll do that.

“He has had an absolutely horrific experience.

He has been let down by the HSE and he now is raising two young boys on his own and trying to cope with the knowledge that if he and Irene had known earlier about her early onset of cancer, then perhaps she would be alive today.

However, Mr Coveney said he believes the focus should be on establishing the facts, not on calls for Mr O’Brien’s resignation.

A scoping report is expected to determine by June the terms of reference for a statutory inquiry into the scandal.

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