Phelan case wasn’t flagged to Cabinet

Vicky Phelan’s case against the HSE and a US laboratory was not on a list of sensitive legal actions that is presented to the Cabinet on a regular basis.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney told the Dáil ministers were not alerted to Ms Phelan’s case as it was not on the list of flagged court cases.

Ministers are usually prior warning of any significant or controversial cases that may appear in the media, or that they may be questioned on.

“We have asked the secretary general to look at the list of sensitive cases that had been on the list. Vicky Phelan’s case was not on the sensitive cases list. This information has just been given to me on my way in to House today. I understand this is the confirmation that the secretary general to the Government has provided,” Mr Coveney told the Dáil.

Separately Bríd Smith said Health Minister Simon Harris must “make heads roll” in the Department for failing to tell him about Ms Phelan’s case.

She told the Dáil the State Claims Agency first received a request for Ms Phelan’s files in January.

The head of the national screening programme knew in March that a claim was going to court. He kicked it up the line to the head of national screening and it kicked up the line to the Department, which knew in March. The minister did not know.

“None of them told him but none of them have been fired or suspended. Go right down the line to where the information first came in, and nobody is in trouble for this.

“I know a young hospital worker who was suspended for two months because she criticised HSE spending and the trolley crisis in a Facebook post,” she said.

Ms Smith told the Dáil she “does not believe” that Mr Harris did not know of the case or the fact that more women were involved in the controversy.

“I do not believe Tony O’Brien and I do not believe that the minister’s department is not full of people who are trying to cover up. If the Minister believes that they are not trying to cover up, that they are all innocent and they are all OK, then he is failing to do his job.

“That is the minister at the head of the organisation. The fish rots from the head and the minister needs to deal with it or else he needs to resign,” the Solidarity PBP TD said.

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