This afternoon.

“Ceann Comhairle,

“As Taoiseach, on behalf of the State, I apologise to the women and their loved ones who suffered from a litany of failures in how cervical screening in our country operated over many years.

“I do so having met and listened to many of those affected and I do so guided by the Scally Inquiry report.

“Today we say sorry to those whose lives were shattered, those whose lives were destroyed, and those whose lives could have been different.

“We know that cervical screening programmes cannot detect all cancers, however we acknowledge the many failures that have taken place.

“We are sorry for:

failures of clinical governance
failures of leadership and management
failure to tell the whole truth and do so in a timely manner
the humiliation, disrespect and deceit
the false reassurance
the attempts to play down the seriousness of this debacle

“We apologise to those who survived and still bear the scars, both physically and mentally. As do their families.

“We apologise to those who are here in our presence. To those watching from home who have kept it to themselves. We apologise to those passed on and who cannot be here.

“We acknowledge the failure that took place with CervicalCheck.

“Today’s apology is too late for some who were affected. For others it will never be enough.

“Today’s apology is offered to all the people the State let down. And to the families who paid the price for those failings.

“A broken service, broken promises, broken lives –a debacle that left a country heartbroken. A system that was doomed to fail.

“We apologise: to our wives, our daughters, our sisters, our mothers.

“To the men who lost the centre of their lives and who every day have to try and pick up the pieces.The single fathers and grandparents.

“To the children who will always have a gaping hole in their lives.

“To all those grieving for what has been taken from them.The happy days that will never be.

“A State apology may not provide closure, but I hope it will help to heal.

“I have met with some of you and your families and I have heard your stories, told to me with dignity, courage and integrity. Families turned upside down.

“The grief of losing loved ones.

“The guilt of those who survived, thinking they were the ‘lucky ones’. Those who have lost their jobs and careers, their ability to have children, their feeling of self-worth. Who feel mutilated inside, who feel they have robbed their partner out of the possibility of having a child. A future stolen from them.

“A State apology will not repair all that has been broken, nor restore all that has been lost, but we can make it count for something.

“Thanks to Dr Scally’s three reports into CervicalCheck we have discovered a lot of truths.

“We now know a lot of facts.

“Some things we will never know.

“But what we do know we can act on and make sure this doesn’t happen again.

“The Government accepted all of the recommendations that were set out in Dr. Scally’s reports and all will be implemented.

“Now, in the words of Vicky Phelan, I want something good to come out of all of this.

“Speaking as a doctor, as well as a politician, a brother and a son, I know the lessons we must learn.

“We need a better culture in our health service, one that treats patients with respect and always tells the truth. One that is never paternalistic – doctor doesn’t always know best. We must always share full information with our patients, admit mistakes, and put the person first. There is no information about a patient that the patient should not know. No patient should ever feel stonewalled by the system. We should never act or fail to act out of fear of litigation or recrimination.

“The involvement of patient advocates like Stephen Teap and Lorraine Walsh and others has shaped and enhanced our response.

“We have revised the Open Disclosure policy so that in future patients will have full knowledge about their care and treatment.They will be informed when things go wrong, met to discuss what happened, and receive a sincere apology if an error was made while caring for them. Above all, patients will be treated with compassion and empathy.

“The new Patient Safety Bill will provide for the mandatory reporting of serious reportable events and will establish a statutory duty of candour.

“Soon, we will establish a new Independent Patient Safety Council. The first task of the Council will be to undertake a detailed review of the existing policies on Open Disclosure across the whole healthcare landscape.

“As a State we aim to make cervical cancer a very rare disease in Ireland. It is almost impossible to eradicate a disease but we can get very close.

“So, we are switching to primary HPV screening, and Ireland will become one of the first countries in the world to adopt this new more accurate screening test.

“We are also extending the ever developing HPV vaccine to boys.

“We are educating and informing parents about the benefits of the vaccine.

“We are investing in better facilities in Ireland like a national cervical screening laboratory, in conjunction with the Coombe. This enhanced facility will take some time to develop but will provide a better balance between public and private provision of laboratory services to the cervical screening programme, always putting quality ahead of cost. It will bring more testing back to Ireland.

“We need to restore confidence in screening.

“We also need to listen to those who have suffered and learn from their stories so we can find justice.

“In July we established the CervicalCheck Tribunal, a statutory tribunal to deal with the issue of liability in CervicalCheck cases. It won’t be perfect but it will be quicker, with a dedicated judge and independent experts, less adversarial than court.

“Women will still have the right to go to court.

“We established an ex-gratia compensation scheme for those affected by the non-disclosure of the Cervical Check audit to provide financial compensation without the need to go to court.

“However this was never about money. This was about accountability, discovering what happened and why, providing justice and finding peace. It was about making a meaningful acknowledgement of what happened, and give an assurance that this won’t happen again to anyone else.

“We have seen further errors in some of the laboratories since the publication of the Scally Report, causing confusion and anxiety, so we have more to do to restore confidence. We are determined to do so.

“Ceann Comhairle,

“What happened to so many women and families should not have happened. While every case was not negligence, every case was a lost opportunity for an earlier diagnosis and treatment.

“It was a failure of our health service, State, its agencies, systems and culture.

“We’ve found out the truth and the facts.

“We’re making changes to put things right.

“We need to restore trust and repair relationships.

“On behalf of the Government and the State, I am sorry it happened. And I apologise to all those hurt or wronged. We vow to make sure it never happens again.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (top) apologises for the “’humiliation, the disrespect and deceit” shown to those affected by the CervicalCheck controversy.

Taoiseach apologises for ‘disrespect and deceit’ over CervicalCheck failures (RTÉ)


Vicky Phelan

RTÉ reports:

The State is expected to offer a formal apology today for failures in the CervicalCheck service to women and families affected.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is due to address the issue in the Dáil this afternoon.

More than 1,000 women and families have been affected by the CervicalCheck crisis.

The failures first came to light in April last year, with the settlement in the Vicky Phelan High Court case.

…The author of two reports into the CervicalCheck controversy [Dr Gabriel Scally] said the issuing of a formal State apology is “a momentous step and quite unprecedented.”

Taoiseach to deliver State apology for CervicalCheck failures (RTÉ)

Behold: the night side of Pluto, captured by the New Horizons spacecraft as it flew past in July 2015. Backlighting is provided by Sol  – some 4.9 billion kilometres (4.5 light hours) in the distance.

The spacecraft was at a range of some 21,000 kilometers from Pluto, about 19 minutes after its closest approach. A denizen of the Kuiper Belt in dramatic silhouette, the image also reveals Pluto’s tenuous, surprisingly complex layers of hazy atmosphere. The crescent twilight landscape near the top of the frame includes southern areas of nitrogen ice plains now formally known as Sputnik Planitia and rugged mountains of water-ice in the Norgay Montes.

(Image: NASA, Johns Hopkins Univ./APL, Southwest Research Institute )


The votes are in.

Two weeks ago, with TWO free vouchers for the ‘full treatment’ at Cesellato on Wexford Street, Dublin 2 on offer – in the capable hands of Enny Buono (above right) who comes from FOUR generations of Italian hairsmiths – we asked you for your worst barber experience.

You answered in your shaggy haired tens.

But there could be only two winners.

Runner up:

Johnny C writes:

A few years ago (my kids were all under 3 so wasn’t getting my quota of sleep) I went to get my hair cut. I was looking forward to the peace and quiet, hoping the barber wouldn’t make small talk with me, and just enjoy the silence. Anyways, apparently half-way through the haircut I fell fast asleep. The barber pushed the chair (was on wheels!) across the room to the corner and left me in peace. I woke up maybe 30mins later to a cheer in the barbers. I got the rest of my hair cut and left feeling relaxed and fully recuperated.

Runner up:

Steve writes:

An apparently newly trained barber got the blade sizes wrong. Put a zero instead of a 4 onto the clippers. Went to 5th year in secondary school with a big old chunk of hair missing out of the front of my head. It grew out to unnoticeable length after a month. 16 years later, I still fear they will get it wrong….


Boj writes:

“Trim your eyebrows?” is a line which sends shudders down my follicles. I was preparing for an all out assault for a first date a few years back. New clothes, then into barbers to get the head of knots tidied, shaved the neck, hot towels, lovely. Then that dreaded line…
I casually replied “sure”.
Electric razor comes out, blade goes onto razor. Barber gets distracted and blade falls off the razor…I sat watching….hoping that the barber saw the fumble. He did not….and before I could scream….zzzzzzz….across the left eyebrow. I went to that date with a helluva story and a unique look. I still chuckle when that line comes out to this very day.


Mick writes:

As a teenager in the 80s I was a bit spotty, and obviously very conscious of it. I went to get my hair cut in my regular barbers one day, and there was a new fella there, a son of the owner, in his early 20s. As he was cutting my hair, near the end he was trimming the back of my neck and had to pull the collar of my shirt to get at all the hair there. While doing it, he obviously had to look down the back of my shirt and said in full voice: “God, you’ve got lots of spots on your back, haven’t you?”
I never went back, and grew my hair long for about 5 years after that.

Thanks all.

Previously: Let A Maestro Cut You Hair


What you may need to know:

1. You ever get the feeling there are just too many trailers? There are so many things audiences are expected to get fired up about now that a lot of it just whistles by in the timeline before the next thing comes along. Next, next, next.

2. Well, never mind all that, because DisneyCorp has just “dropped” the final trailer for the final movie (as if) in the Star Wars saga, The Rise of Skywalker. They say final, as in the last in the trilogy of trilogies that George Lucas accidentally kicked off back in 1977, but Star Wars is very much here to stay.

4. For one, it’s only a few weeks until the long-awaited TV series The Mandalorian arrives. No word on when it’ll be available in this part of the world until DisneyCorp confirms its plans for the Disney+ streaming service, but the early word on John Favreau’s space western is very positive.

5. Back to The Rise of Skywalker; what can one say about the plot? Rey and Finn and company blast off across the galaxy on another adventure to apparently visit the wreckage of the Death Star and do something, stop something, start something, etc. Hot on their heels once again is Kylo Ren, who may or may not turn into a goodie by the end, if he and Rey can sort out their differences. He faked her out twice already though, so who knows.

5. Also in there in the most transparent attempt to keep tetchy “fans” on side is one Emperor Palpatine, played by Ian MacDiarmid, who was thrown down a shaft by Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi (1983) and by far the best thing about the wonderfully terrible prequel trilogy (1999 – 2005).

6. I say wonderfully terrible because despite their unquestionable awfulness, those movies have stubbornly refused be forgotten – exemplified by PrequelMemes, the spirited Reddit community that serves as an antidote to the “toxic fandom” that has grown around Star Wars since it was brought back to life in 2012.

7. On that note, I’m looking forward to the debate over which is the better trilogy once all this blows over. A strong case could be made for the prequels.

8. By the way, since they’re visiting the Death Star, does that mean Ewoks will make an appearance? Don’t bet against it.

9. Ahead of the December release date, why not take a trip back to 1976, to the very first Star Wars promo, before John Williams’ famous score was even written.

10. It will be the final screen appearance of Carrie Fisher, who would have been 63 yesterday.

Release: December 20

Doug’s Verdict: Here we go again.

This afternoon.

Leinster House, Dublin 2.

Ailbhe aged 1 and Fionn, aged 4, from Roscommon (outside the Dail) for an Extinction Rebellion Ireland protest who will stage a theatrical mock ‘trial’ of Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment set twenty years from now.

Hey, worked for Mao.

Earlier: Michael Taft: Making Climate Repair Affordable And Accessible

Leah Farrell/RollingNews

Seán Ó Fearghaíl , Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann

“”These revelations are very grave and go to the heart of the credibility of our parliamentary process… the public must have total and absolute confidence in it.

I have requested to speak with a number of members, the tellers from last Thursday, and the party and group whips. I ask all to cooperate, as it is imperative to establish facts and restore confidence.

There has e has also been a complaint under the Ethics Act… but separately the Dáil’s procedural committee will have to meet and establish next steps for the operation of e-voting.

This is a very serious situation which requires urgent action; I am absolutely committed to establishing the facts and making any changes to the electronic voting system which is necessary in my view.” He says e-voting is integral to the Dáil system

Votes this week will only be taken when all members are sitting in their own seats; party whips will be asked to independently certify the attendance of their TDs before the tellers sign the result.”

Seán Ó Fearghaíl , Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann this afternoon.

Via Gavan Reilly, political correspondent Virgin Media News, who adds:

Dáil’s procedural committee committee is expected to receive its report, stating facts of the Dooley-Collins-Calleary-Chambers issue, tomorrow evening…

Earlier: Vote Early, Vote Often