Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has called for answers about why there were no breast cancer screenings at all conducted in the month of April. The Deputy said:

“We learned during the week that the breast check programme was paused on March 16th and that there was a 96% reduction in samples sent to cervical check labs for analysis. We also know that Bowel Screening has been stopped. The Department of Health have been telling us, at nearly every press briefing held over the past two weeks, that it is really important that people present to their GPs and hospitals if they are ill as they ordinarily would in normal times. However now we know that a decision was made to stall cancer screening programmes. The government led people to believe that the reduction in people turning up to hospitals or the potential delay in cancer diagnosis was a result of the public being fearful about presenting at hospital or seeking medical advice or help. Now we know that a conscious decision was made to cancel screening services”.

“Aontú have been raising for weeks that we are likely to see a radical increase in mortality and morbidity as a result of these cancelations and hospital avoidance. We have sought to find answers. Did the Minister for Health make this decision to cancel cancer screenings. Why were cancer screenings cancelled last month, why are we only learning about it now and will the government reinstitute these screening tests immediately?”

“However due to elected representatives being limited to only three priority questions each to the Department of Health, its virtually impossible to get to the truth. We’re being treated as observers at a press briefing. This morning I have submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the Department of Health to find answers. I will have to wait a month for the answers to issue under the FOI Act. Is this what democracy has been reduced to? That an opposition TD must resort to submitting month-long Freedom of Information requests to get answers from the government?”

“The setting up of the new Covid_19 all party committee is to be welcomed. Aontú called for it 2 months ago. However, this committee should be held in public session only. I fear that the committee will be used as means by which to allow opposition deputies to ask their hard questions, but away from cameras and public view”.