Phelan case brings up questions about Ireland's ‘attitude to women’ - Emily Logan

The Human Rights Commissioner has said the CervicalCheck scandal is the latest in a long history of cases where institutional interests were put ahead of those of the individual, and again raises questions about Ireland’s attitude to women.

Emily Logan made the comments having addressed the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation Annual Delegate Conference in Cork yesterday.

“I think we’ve a long- standing history of placing institutional interest or institutional loyalty ahead of the interests of individuals and I think that’s what we’re seeing here, that the individual women were not prioritised, that their interests were not prioritised ahead of institutional interests and it’s not enough for that to be a lesson, it’s sadly another lesson,” Ms Logan said.

“We interact with the United Nations’ systems and in June 2015 we sat before the Committee on Civil and Political Rights and there was a litany of cases where women and children were very badly treated.

“I think there are questions to be asked about the underlying attitudes towards women in addition to immediate reparation and redress for the women involved,” she said.

Ms Logan said any subsequent investigation must follow certain principles.

Human rights is essentially about respect and dignity, and the lack of dignity and respect that was shown not only for Vicky Phelan, but also the women involved is quite clear given what has happened.

“In terms of what should happen next, the Irish Human Rights and Equality commission has communicated in the past some key principles. Whether its an enquiry or commission of enquiry, there are some key principles there.

“One is the independence of any investigation, the second is powers of compellability, it’s really important that any documentation can be extracted or compelled, that the HSE can be compelled to give that information.

“The third is that the individuals themselves are allowed to give individual testimony. I know that Vicky Phelan herself said that there should be some opportunity to do that publicly, and that’s very consistent in terms of international standards of enquiry, to allow witnesses to both give that witness either privately or publicly.

Vicky Phelan

“The fourth is about redress. I know the Taoiseach said it’s too early to consider redress, that they’ve an open mind on it.

“It’s really important that whatever redress scheme is set up is human rights and equality compliant and respectful of the women who have been treated so badly in this case.”

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