“I completely support Sharon Butler Hughes’ decision to withdraw her contribution to the MacCraith report, and confirmation today that her legal team is considering what action can be taken to seek  the removal of the report, in its current format, from the HSE website ” – Peadar Tóibín TD, Aontú.

Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín has said that he completely supports whistle blower Sharon Butler Hughes’ decision to withdraw her contribution to the MacCraith Rapid Review Report on Cervical Check.

The Aontú leader was responding to this evening’s confirmation by Ms Butler Hughes’ Solicitor, Caoimhe Haughey, that they are considering what steps to take to seek the removal of the MacCraith report, in its current format, from the HSE website.

Speaking this evening Ms Haughey said:

“Our contribution to the MacCraith report has been withdrawn, the HSE has not contacted us so we are now considering our position on steps we can take to have it, in its current format, removed from the HSE website.”

An Teachta Tóibín stated:

“I’ve been in touch with Sharon Butler Hughes over the past number of months and have seen the letters the Department of Health and others have sent her. It is horrific the way she’s been treated. Sharon was the woman whose case exposed a wider problem with an IT glitch in Quest Diagnostics which lead to women’s smear test results being delayed. Sharon has campaigned tirelessly since then to get to the bottom of the full truth of the matter.

“Sharon is clear that she spoke to the Department by way of phone call on 9th July 2019 and was informed by an official that the Minister was fully briefed on the IT issues. However, in subsequent interviews with RTÉ, Minister Harris claimed that he was not made aware of the issues until shortly before 6pm the following day, July 10th. He disputes Sharon’s recollection of the July 9th phone call.

“With Sharon’s consent, I would like to release a document today. It is the Department of Health call log for July 9th – it shows the notes taken regarding Sharon’s phone call. However, these notes prop up the department’s version of events. What I find interesting is that the record shows that the call log was ‘updated’ shortly before 6pm on July 10th, the time at which the Minister maintains he was informed of the IT issues. Why was the record of the July 9th phone call edited on July 10th?

“What also gives weight to Sharon’s position is that the Minister said in the Seanad on Friday 12th July that the HSE advised the department of the IT glitch on Tuesday last, which would have been the 9th, as Sharon claims. When challenged on this the Minister said that he mixed up his notes and meant to say Wednesday. This incident and the call log below adds weight to Sharon’s position and casts doubt over the department’s version.

“Sharon wanted to meet the Minister to discuss this issue with the Minister, but initially he placed preconditions on the meeting saying that he would only meet her if they agreed not to revisit the issue of the phone call. When challenged on this by myself and other opposition TDs in the Health Committee he agreed to meet her, and allow her to discuss whatever she wished. He then set a date for that meeting and cancelled at very short notice while Sharon was on her way to Leinster House.

“I have listened to Sharon, I have looked at the documents and evidence, and can only conclude that Sharon is telling the truth. I feel that her integrity has been wrongfully called into question by the Minister for Health and others, and I can totally understand her decision to withdraw support for the MacCraith report.

“Regardless of what government is formed over the next few months, it must be borne in mind that the Cervical Check scandal has not passed. Issues are not solved. Questions are not all answered. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms Butler Hughes for the great deal of work she has done for the women of Ireland. Sharon is an honest lady, she is a fighter, and I think the Minister really chose the wrong woman to fight with in this instance.”

CRÍOCH