Micheál Martin: Government knew of strategy to silence patient

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has claimed the Government knew of a strategy to block a cancer patient from speaking out about her misdiagnosis.

Any gaps in communication or knowledge of the Government of hostile legal adversarial action against dying mother-of-two Vicky Phelan needed to be known, he said.

Speaking in Dundalk, Mr Martin also said ministers had no choice but to set up a redress board for cancer patients and families impacted.

“It’s very alarming and very worrying that, as part of the legal strategy taken by our Government, essentially there was an attempt to insert a non-disclosure clause in that agreement which would have prevented anyone from knowing anything about this.

“I would point out that the legal strategy is coordinated on the Government’s behalf by the State Claims Agency. I’ve heard ministers calling out as if they’re not in Government saying there should be no more hostile legal adversarial action taken. But I would simply say that’s within the Government’s remit,” he said.

“My understanding is that the State Claims Agency answers to the NTMA, which answers to the Minister for Finance. I think there’s a process there whereby the Government should engage with the State Claims Agency on this issue.

“It’s about Government ministers ensuring that there is no adversarial approach taken.

“We need full transparency as soon as possible. Surely, some of those in the party must have known that this case was going to become public.”

Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly said the inquiry into the tests scandal needed to report quickly as Ms Phelan was “gravely” ill.

The decision to outsource the cervical cancer tests was made in 2008 and, therefore, Fianna Fáil had questions to answer, she said.

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