News Ireland Donnelly accused of 'playing politics' with CervicalCheck tribunal

Donnelly accused of ‘playing politics’ with CervicalCheck tribunal

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Campaigners have accused the Minister for Health of “playing politics” and have written to him demanding clarity “once and for all” on the CervicalCheck Tribunal.

“We are getting to the point where this discourse is pointless when what we have offered by way of input and evidence is either being ignored or we are being talked over,” the 221+ group have told Stephen Donnelly in a letter sent today.

“As we have now stated, on a number of occasions, 221+ has no basis on which to express confidence in the tribunal as proposed at this point,” campaigners said.

The group had raised significant concerns around the CervicalCheck tribunal, which has now been put on pause.

It is understood campaigners were “incandescent” with anger when they recently received a letter from the Health Minister and some felt more hurt by the latest tribunal controversy than about any of the other failures with the cancer screening service.

They believe the letter, sent by Mr Donnelly earlier this month, was designed to “rewrite the history of the last few months” so that if the CervicalCheck Tribunal fails or women decide not to use it, the 221+ group would be seen to be responsible and not the Minister or the Government.

The 221+ group has now responded to the Minister after the Taoiseach on Tuesday suggested that there would be further movement on the tribunal at Cabinet next week.

Referring to this, the campaigners state: “It seems that we are back to learning about Government’s views on the CervicalCheck Tribunal at the same time as the public.”

The 221+ Cervical Check Patient Support Group had made a number of requests including that any tribunal be non-adversarial in nature.

They also believe that women who suffer a recurrence of their cancer should be allowed to return to the tribunal similar to applicants who came before the Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation tribunals.

They are concerned that the Statute of Limitations could impact some women who wish to take cases.

The letter states: “The position of Government now seems to be that it can ‘deal with’ the Statute of Limitations,” issue that we raised. That is not what was in the last letter received from you on 8 November?

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“If the position has changed and there is now a basis for the statement made in the Dáil yesterday, perhaps you can advise us on what is different and what is proposed?” they ask the Minister in their letter.

“We believe that in just playing politics and pushing out the inevitable conclusion that it is unwilling to address the issue as these women would wish.

“Surely if nothing we have said can persuade you, the news yesterday will; that of another mother of two young children pleading for an urgent hearing of her court action in fear of her life, a case, still involving two labs, and that is expected to last a number of weeks.”

The letter ends by stating that as they see it “time is up” and they are now “setting about communicating to our members to that effect” over the weekend.

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