"Stephen Donnelly must admit that the Cervical Check Tribunal has failed" – Tóibín
Figures released to Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD from the State Claims Agency show that 310 claims have been issued by women or families against the State relating to the Cervical Check controversy since 2018.
77 of these claims were received this year. 38 of the claims are from families of women who have already died.
Separately, the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, has confirmed to Deputy Tóibín that a mere 8 claims have been notified to the Cervical Check Tribunal.
Responding to the figures released to him, Deputy Tóibín said:
"The Cervical Check Tribunal was established in October last year, with the window in which claims could be made initially set to expire in July but the government introduced legislation just prior to the expiry date to extend the deadline for claims until January of 2022. In doing so the government cited Covid-19 and the HSE cyber attack as impacting on their work, but I would speculate that the real reason for the extension was in the hope of increasing the number of claims. The Minister for Health must now accept that the tribunal has failed. It is clear that last year Minister Donnelly caused a lot of hurt to the 221+ group when he disregarded their reservations about the tribunal plans, and ploughed ahead with the establishment of the tribunal despite promises to the group".
Deputy Tóibín continued: "The Minister's actions here are to blame for the failure of the tribunal and it is an extremely serious failure. Aontú has learned from the State Claims Agency that 77 claims have been made through the courts or legal process outside of the tribunal, so it is clear that women do not have faith in the tribunal and are thus being forced to go through the legal route and the courts - this is what the tribunal was supposed to stop, this is what the government promised wouldn't happen. We're all familiar with the court cases, where women are being fought in court right up until days before their death. This is enormously cruel. In terms of the large volume of claims going through the legal route and the low volume going through the tribunal, this is going to place enormous cost on the State / taxpayer and indeed on the individual women and families affected by this scandal. The Minister needs to revise this legislation and reengage with the women in a more honest and sincere manner than he did last year. He must also accept defeat on this issue and take his head out of the sand - the cervical check tribunal has failed", concluded Deputy Tóibín.