In today’s Irish Times, Health Correspondent Paul Cullen has an interview with Limerick mother-of-two Vicky Phelan – one year on from her High Court case where she settled a case against Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, Austin, Texas, for €2.5million.
Ms Phelan, who refused to sign a gagging order about her case, was diagnosed with terminal cancer following a cervical smear test error.
Following her case, it later emerged that more than 200 women diagnosed with cancer were not informed of an audit which revised their earlier, negative smear tests.
Mr Cullen reports:
“…Ms Phelan said the Taoiseach ‘just doesn’t get it’ in relation to fixing the problems that have arisen.
‘The classic example is him going on Six One News saying no woman would ever have to go into court, and look what’s happened. That’s still the case and not only that, the tribunal has not yet been established in order for that not to happen.
‘I don’t think he gets it at all. And it’s not just because he’s a gay man, I just don’t think he gets it.’
…’I think we got a lot of promises made at the time, not to shut us up but to “give them what they want quickly and get them off the pages”.
‘Until we have a situation in this country where people are held accountable for what they’ve done, these things are just going to keep happening and there’ll be another scandal,’ she said.”
Meanwhile, during an interview with Miriam O’Callaghan on RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke this morning, Ms Phelan apologised for and clarified her ‘gay man’ comment (above).
“I’m critical of the Government in general. I suppose, I think some of what I said was taken out of context and I would like to apologise to the Taoiseach for the comment in today’s article.
“What I said, I was trying to make the point that the issues faced by the women and their families are wide-ranging, they involve input from a wide range of players, from the Department of Health to the HSE, legal profession, the medical profession, and the Attorney General’s office to draft up this legislation.
“And basically any unwillingness or inertia on the part of one player can hold everything up and that is exactly what has happened over the last 12 months.”
Asked specifically what she was trying to say when she made the “gay man” comment, Vicky said:
“This is a women’s issue and it’s always about women, that was the point I was making. It wasn’t anything to do with the Taoiseach being gay, whatsoever. That was totally taken out of context.”
“We’ve seen it on a number of occasions over the last number of years, Miriam, between the different scandals that have happened to women. Bridget McCole, the Hepatitis C scandal…I think we have a very poor record and poor history in this country in dealing with women’s issues.”
Listen back to interview in full here