'No limit' on the amount of compensation for those impacted by cervical cancer screening errors

There will be no limit on the amount of compensation which can be awarded to women and families impacted by cervical cancer screening errors, the Taoiseach has said.

'No limit' on the amount of compensation for those impacted by cervical cancer screening errors

There will be no limit on the amount of compensation which can be awarded to women and families impacted by cervical cancer screening errors, the Taoiseach has said.

The Cabinet has agreed to appoint two remaining judges to a three-member Tribunal which will now get the green light to begin its work and start hearing potentially hundreds of cases.

Health Minister Simon Harris brought the plans to Cabinet. Any decisions on cases will be influenced by a pending state appeal in the courts over the case of terminally-ill Limerick woman Ruth Morrisey, who was awarded €2.1m.

Mr Varadkar said: “There is no limit set on the amount of awards that a tribunal can make. We will only know when they start to hear cases, when they start to make awards.

"The sum of it will be determined by case law. As you know only one case, the Morrissey case, has actually been fully heard in the courts. All the others were settled.

"And that is on appeal and we expect a judgement before the end of January. Once that judgement is handed down by the Supreme Court, that will be the basis I think on which the tribunal will be able to hear the other cases and make awards."

Justice Mary Irvine was previously appointed as chair of the tribunal and will now be joined by Justice Brian McGovern and Justice Michael Peart.

“The one thing I wanted to make sure is that, no matter what else may happen in the next couple of weeks, that that tribunal has its members and can sit and can start to hear cases right away,” added Mr Varadkar.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet has agreed the general scheme for a new media commission which will include an online protection chief to regulate social media firms and enforce safety codes.

Communications Minister Richard Bruton reiterated that the "era of self-regulation is over" and that it is time online companies were subject to stricter standards and sanctions.

Under the draft scheme of the online safety laws, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland will be dissolved and replaced by a multi-person media commission.

The media commission will protect the interests of the public in relation to online, audio-visual and audio content while also setting rules and taking enforcement actions where breaches are identified.

Specific jobs for the online safety commissioner will include deciding which online services it can oversee. Rules will apply for harmful online content, commercial communications and the handling of complaints.

Failure to comply with warning notices can result in the setting of financial penalties for firms or the blocking of services.

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