Seanad debates

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


1:00 pm

Photo of Victor BoyhanVictor Boyhan (Independent) | Oireachtas source

Last week I spoke about the cervical cancer scandal. I requested that we look at it and asked that a Minister attend here. Since I spoke there was an article in the Sunday Independentby Vicky Phelan. For those who may not have read it, she wrote a compelling and moving appeal to what she described as those in power - the people in the Houses of the Oireachtas. Sadly we do not have Vicky Phelan as a voice on the benches of either of these Houses, which is a discussion and a conversation for another day. Vicky felt compelled to put pen to paper to share her thoughts after the death of Ruth Morrissey. I will quote some powerful lines which should go on the record of this House:

I'm also writing as a woman living with a terminal illness, who is under no illusion that, in a few short years, I will also be dead. And I know many of the very same people who spoke about Ruth, after her death, will be paying tribute to me - and promising the earth, moon and stars in my honour. I am here to tell you now, while I still can, that I don't want your apologies. I don't want your tributes. I don't want your aide de camp at my funeral. I don't want your accolades or your broken promises. I want action. I want change. I want accountability. And I want to see it happen while I am still alive, not after I am dead.

Vicky Phelan’s appeal to those in power is clear. She wants us to "Enact the legislation to provide for mandatory open disclosure"; to "Implement all the outstanding recommendations from the Scally Report; to establish a new CervicalCheck tribunal "that is non-adversarial and does not involve confrontation"; to "amend the Civil Liabilities Act, so the dependants of women affected by the CervicalCheck scandal [do] not have to go to court for a second time; and to establish "a National Laboratory for Cervical Testing".

My plea to the Leader is to ask her to arrange for any Minister of the Government to come to this House before we adjourn on Friday to have a debate about these important issues and to give us a progress report. I am respectfully putting the Leader on notice that tomorrow I intend to propose an amendment to the Order of Business and will also do so on the following day so that the Government and the Leader can accede to this very reasonable request.


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