Seanad debates

Thursday, 11 July 2019

CervicalCheck Tribunal Bill 2019: Second Stage


10:30 am

Photo of Catherine ByrneCatherine Byrne (Dublin South Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

The dedication and compassion of the Minister of Health, Deputy Harris, have made the Bill what it is today. There has been notable input from people here and in the Dáil yesterday and I acknowledge all of the issues raised, including some that were ruled out of order and some on which we could not agree. The Minister has assured people that he will work to overcome any obstacles that people may put in place during the summer months and afterwards as well.

My colleagues behind me have me thrown in at the deep end today. Senator Devine should note that women who have already received an award can make use of the restoration of trust meetings. Such women will be encouraged. Their experiences should be recorded and section 32 sets out the details in this regard. I agree with the Senator on the importance of their voices being heard. Senator Higgins has given me an opportunity to highlight the work of the steering group on CervicalCheck, which includes women and family members who were part of the process. I wish to thank them on behalf of all of us. Reference was made to hearings in public. There is absolutely no intention to deny the right of women to have their hearing held in public. The requirements of the tribunal on public hearings are purely procedural. They are required to ensure women will indicate in advance whether they want to be heard publically.

I am conscious of the fact that I may not have been able to answer one or two other questions. However, I assure Senators that from listening to the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, in recent days and especially his commitment in the Dáil yesterday I am confident we have a Minister who is more than compassionate. The Minister is in the right place and will do everything to rectify the damage done to so many women.

I am conscious of the fact that I may not be able to answer some of the questions. I was directed here from the Dáil some minutes ago. In dressing myself this morning I was conscious of the fact that I put on a jacket. It is only as I sit here that I realise I am wearing a CervicalCheck pin. This is an indication of what has been said here, especially by Senator Devine, about the HPV vaccine. As public representatives we know how important it is to instil in young people the importance of having the HPV vaccine. I sat on the Joint Committee on Health a long time ago along with several people in the Chamber. I remember the time we met women and mothers who had concerns around some of the vaccines. I have been looking at the evidence from Australia recently - I imagine many people have seen it - and the number of women there suffering from cervical cancer has almost gone off the map altogether. We will all have a role to play over the coming months to promote the HPV vaccine and all the other vaccines that are so essential to our children and the health of all of us in this country. I hope that helps some of the Senators. I know there is another session and Senators may be able to raise issues then.


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