Vicky Phelan feels ‘betrayed’ by CervicalCheck tribunal

ireland
Campaigner Vicky Phelan
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David Raleigh

CervicalCheck cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan said she feels “betrayed” after claiming Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has formally established the CervicalCheck Tribunal despite announcing that it would be paused.

The tribunal was due to start its work on Tuesday but was paused for a number of days following meetings between Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and representatives of the 221+ Group.

It emerged on Tuesday night, however, the order establishing the tribunal had been signed late last week and so the effective start date of the tribunal still began on Tuesday.

The Limerick mother said the tribunal is a “dead duck” in its present format and she will not support it.

In a thread on Twitter late on Tuesday night, Ms Phelan said the CervicalCheck Tribunal was established by statutory order on Tuesday morning “despite an announcement yesterday evening by Minister [Stephen Donnelly] that its establishment would be paused”.

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Ms Phelan said that the Department of Health issued a statement, which said the establishment of the tribunal had been paused "for a number of days to allow [the 221+ group] to engage with its members".

The Limerick mother, who was given a terminal cervical cancer diagnosis after she was given a false negative smear test result, added: “Yet, at 6pm this evening 18 hours after the tribunal was established, we get a phone call from a [Department of Health] official to inform us that the tribunal that we do not support has been established, and to tell us that the Minister and officials were unable to delay it.”

“The order to establish the tribunal had already been signed by the Minister on October 21st last. We made it quite clear last Friday, October 23rd and again on Monday last, October 27th that we wanted it paused.We were promised that would happen,” Ms Phelan wrote. “This promise was broken.”

CervicalCheck scandal

Ms Phelan and others from the 221+ Patient Support Group – which was set up to support women and families identified arising out of the CervicalCheck scandal – met the Minister last Monday.

Ms Phelan said “the Minister should not have signed the order last week allowing the tribunal to be established”, adding that it is “not fit for purpose”.

She said the Minister knew “as early as last Tuesday” that the 221+ campaign group was “not happy with the format of the tribunal and that we would not support it”. Ms Phelan stated that she and her fellow campaigners “have communicated the issues very clearly and what needs to happen“.

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Ms Phelan said the Minister “can decommission the tribunal” but “we will not support the tribunal in its current format”.

“So unless the Minister meets our demands for a just tribunal, he will be left with a dead duck,” she concluded.

“It is now firmly up to the Minister & Government to right this wrong and make good on the demands of the @221plus for a just and fair Tribunal.“

“The alternative is a Tribunal that is in danger of going the way of the infamous e-voting machines - an embarrassing & costly mistake.“

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