CervicalCheck tribunal to be established 'without delay'

Stephen Donnelly has appointed two more judges to the CervicalCheck tribunal. File photo

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said the CervicalCheck tribunal will be established 'without delay', as he appointed two more judges.

Mr Donnelly confirmed that Ms Justice Ann Power, a serving judge of the Court of Appeal, will act as chairperson.

Mr Justice Tony O’Connor, a serving judge of the High Court, has been appointed as an ordinary member of the tribunal.

These appointments will be in addition to the appointment of the Mr Justice Brian McGovern, who is a retired judge of the Court of Appeal and was previously appointed as an ordinary member.

The decision to establish the tribunal was made in December 2018 and legislation to set it up was passed in July 2019, though it has been delayed because of Covid-19 and social distancing restrictions.

Mr Donnelly said: “The Tribunal will allow women to progress their cases in a sensitive manner. I want to thank all three judges for taking on these roles and look forward to engaging with them.”

The Minister also said the CervicalCheck steering committee would be reconvened.

“I intend to appoint an independent chair to that group, as soon as a suitable candidate can be identified. A meeting of the Steering Committee will be convened in the near future,” he said.

The tribunal was established to allow an alternative to going to court for claims arising out of the CervicalCheck controversy.

The controversy over the screening programme was sparked by Limerick woman Vicky Phelan, who has cervical cancer, settling a High Court action in April 2018 over the reading of her smear test.

It later emerged more than 100 other women were not informed of an audit which revised their earlier, negative smear tests. Some are taking legal cases against the testing labs and the HSE.