Deputy Tóibín stated:

“In recent days I have been alerted to a serious development in the cervical check scandal particularly in relation to the MacCraith report.

“I’ve been contacted by the whistle-blower at the centre of that story regarding the IT issue at Quest Diagnostics -Sharon Butler Hughes. She has campaigned long and hard for the women of Ireland and has done a huge service in terms of encouraging transparency from Cervical Check and exposing HSE, Laboratory and Departmental failures on this front. Last year I raised her concerns about the Department’s account of events as outlined in the MacCraith report. At that time the Minister vowed to meet with Ms Butler Hughes.

“The Minister stated clearly to me, at the Health Committee meeting on 2nd October 2019 that he would meet Sharon, but this did not happen. (For footage of the exchange see Wednesday 2nd October 2019 committee meeting, from 2:49:45.)

“However it’s been brought to my attention that the promised meeting was cancelled mere hours before it was to take place. The reason cited for the cancellation of the meeting is a major cause for alarm. I have seen the letters and emails. Department officials told Ms Butler Hughes that the meeting had been cancelled on foot of legal advice pertaining to a case she was taking against Cervical Check and Quest Diagnostics.

“Sharon Butler Hughes and I have serious concerns around all this and we want answers.

  1. How did the Department learn of this letter of claim?
  2. Is there a breach of GDPR here?
  3. How did the letter of claim, the content of which appears to have been leaked to the Department/Minister, have any bearing or effect on the meeting between Sharon and the Minister, given that the claim was not being made against the Minister?

“Ms Butler Hughes deserves answers to these questions. 

“Last week Aontú launched a petition calling for the resignation of Simon Harris. It outlines the many failures of the health service which is crumbling beneath an incompetent Health Minister whose attitudes towards whistle-blowers and patients leaves a lot to be desired.”