‘Give Them What They Want Quickly And Get Them Off The Pages’


Vicky Phelan

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).

She said:

“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.”

Vicky Phelan criticises Varadkar for ‘unacceptable delays’ (Paul Cullen, The Irish Times)

Listen back to interview in full here


46 thoughts on “‘Give Them What They Want Quickly And Get Them Off The Pages’

  1. class wario

    Christ, that is a fairly awful comment to make.

    That said, she is a normal woman in a hellish situation and who was thrust into the media spotlight as a result. I’m willing to cut her a bit of slack on this particular incidence of foot in mouth. She should stick to crtiicising actions and policy all the same.

    1. Andrew

      What’s awful about it? A lot of gay men I know and have known; don’t like women and don’t have empathy for them either. It’s an uncomfortable truth because people don’t like admitting it.

        1. Andrew

          Of course you have Nigel. Misogyny is a thing after all.
          It’s just that a lot of women don’t seem to think gay men are guilty of it.

          1. millie st murderlark


            Pretty sure being gay doesn’t exclude you from being a bottyhole, irrespective of gender.

          2. Andrew

            yes milly, that’s my point; being gay does not exclude you from being a hoo ha or a misogynist.
            All the women *you* know Nigel are not all women.

          3. Nigel

            Thank goodness Andrew I was afraid for a minute there I literally knew every woman in the world, and I’m bad enough as it is at remembering birthdays.

      1. eoin

        Somehow, I’d hope Leo’s medical training would trump any perceived gay bias. Mind you, his socio-economic outlook seems to trump both, so, carry on, you were saying Vicky.

  2. Jonickal

    Miriam shouldn’t have an issue out of the ‘gay man’ comment. Sure it might be a reckless throw away comment, but in the greater scheme of things it’s only a tiny issue. Not surprised by RTE, they love deflecting away from the central issue.

      1. Ian-O

        Considering Vicky is fighting a serious illness, has demonstrated immeasurable courage in the face of such and has been incredibly stoic and honest and eloquent you cannot really compare her to a sickening pustule like Prone.

        Vicky made a minor error – she probably didn’t need to mention he was a gay man, but she was right to mention that he might not ‘get it’ as he is a man.

        So yeah, imagine if the Prune did say – she’d be lashed out of it and rightly so – its her job to manage public relations, so a minor faux pax from her would appear to carry greater weight than that of an ordinary woman in extraordinary circumstances.

        But don’t let me get in the way of your usual whataboutery and goal posting relocation rots, ya mad fecker!

        1. rotide

          Look, I think Vicky is great brave and all the rest of it.

          However, she was absolutely wrong to say that this is because leo is a gay man. Remove the gay part of that and its still wrong.

          It has nothing to do with his gender. Nothing at all.

          It’s not a minor error. She was wrong, she has somewhat apologised and that’s fine.

          1. GiggidyGoo

            Yes. She apologized quickly. Compare that to Varadkar and his lies and false promises. No apologies there.

  3. phil

    She is right about accountability , Ive often wondered why we can’t/wont do accountability …

    1. Ian-O

      If I was to lie to my boss, over and over and over again to make up for my poor performance and he did nothing about it, I kept drawing my salary and had a handy number, why would I stop lying?

      Accountability will come when people grow the fupp up and realise that doing the same things over and over again yields the same results over and over again.

      The reality is that people vote out of fear – fear of a return to the 80’s, the crash and so on, understandably of course, but not the right reason. FG have been proven, time and time, both as a party and from the actions of their individual members to be liars, in the pocket of certain individuals and definitely not acting in the interests of the electorate beyond opening ‘big tech’ firms call centres and so on.

      Thatcherism was a disaster for the UK in many areas but of course Leo and pals are too fupping ideological to learn a thing.

      1. phil

        ideologically FG are Center Right, and you can see that thru their pro business actions, but being Thatcherite should also mean privatization of public sector roles , and failure by the public sector its ideal cover to privatise , which doesn’t happen …

        FG is the worst of both worlds

        1. Ian-O

          Actually, yes you are correct, its a special kind of right wing when it suit us ideology they hold to.

  4. Dr.Fart MD

    it’s a perfect example of what i’m always saying about FG, they don’t do anything. They don’t work. They don’t do any actual work. They say things, and that’s it. No action. Her gay man comment was absolutely nothing, but as soon as she said it all the gov. shills would’ve been passing the word around “discredit her through her comment”, and then back to doing nothing.

    1. Ian-O

      Murphy, Doherty, Flanagan, Fitzgerald, Varadkar – is there any beginning to their talents?

      Any at all?

      1. Dr.Fart MD

        jesus when you see all the names in a row like that, you really see the depth of failure within FG. Not one of those can claim one success story in their tenure. But all are attached to some kind of story of ineptitude/scandal etc.

        1. rotide

          Fact check time.
          “Not one of those can claim one success story in their tenure”
          Repealing the 8th?


          1. Dr.Fart MD

            i was waiting for that. to give them credit for that is an insult to the real people who made that happen. when it first came up, nearly all FG were against it. They only hopped onboard when they saw the majority of people, or voters, as they call us, were going for yes. The real work had already been done by the tireless campaigners. FG just swung in at the end to take cred.

          2. rotide

            That’s an incredibly skewed understanding of what happened.

            FG were the govt who after 20 odd years legislated for X. (people here said it was all they would do) They were the govt who set up the Citizens Convention to look at a possible referendum (people here said it was a stalling tactic and notjhing would come of it). They were the Govt who on the back of the CC, called a referendum on the 8th.

            I’m not for a second undermining the work done by grassroots activists which has been going on for 30 years since the first referendum but you can do all the activism you want and it counts for SFA without a government willing to call a referendum on the subject.

            FG have many sins, but this ain’t one of them. I’m guessing I’m older than you and believe me, the thought of a government calling for and pushing for a yes vote in both Marriage Equality and Abortion was unthinkable 30 years ago. Like it or not, they are the party that made those referendums happen. Just like Reynolds/Ahern/PaisleyMajor were instrumental in the GFA, credit must go where it is due.

            Find another rock to grind your axe on

          3. Cian

            I see where you are coming from about them not being pro-abortion 4 years ago, but politicians are supposed to listen to the people – we are in a democracy after all – so when they heard that people wanted the 8th repealed – they listened (and did something).

            What FG were directly responsible for was establishing the Citizens’ Assembly to find an acceptable resolution to the “Irish Solution to Abortion”.

            They choose the relevant referendum wording (not just removing the 8th, but replacing it with “Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy. ” to allow explicit legislation be enacted.)

            Prior to the referendum they published their proposed abortion legislation that they would put to the Dáil if the 8th was repealed.

            Finally they pushed the proposed legislation through the Dáil (without watering it down) and had it enacted.

          4. Dr.Fart MD

            and what else have they done? in all those years in power. besides allow people to vote on basic human rights?

  5. Joxer

    interesting that she was held accountable for her words and yet those who should be held accountable for these scandals are allowed away scot-free and sure here’s a grand pension for you

  6. Andrew

    Miriam O’Callaghan has a thing about gay people. She was delighted that she was the one to interview Varadkar when he ‘came out’ in public. She facilitated that bit of stage management for him.
    She also unprofessionally and doggedly questioned Brendan Howlin about his sexuality in an interview when he expressly said he didn’t wish to discuss his personal life and did not see its relevance.
    She affects the attitude of a college student. It’s embarrassing.

    1. Ian-O

      She’s an ‘RTE’ personality so judgement, ability, professionalism, ethics and so on were not needed.

      She was the ‘right’ sort of person, like her extended family.

  7. LeopoldGloom

    She’s correct. He’s nothing but a pompous, vaccuous, self image obsessesd soundbite. Leo is a truly appaling Taoiseach. He’s not even a good politician, yet somehow people have got him to the top.

    And Phelan shouldn’t have had to apologise or clarify anything. Double down, that’s what they do. They’re so brazen too.

    1. Andrew

      Vardkar is above all other things a narcissist. Maybe in that sense, he is representative of people today?
      He’s not that bright, despite the medical degree; although people do still have that strange kind of reverence for people who do well at exams.
      He doesn’t seem to have any real ideology at all.
      Most of the government’s ‘decisions’ are been taken by the permanent government and a small number of autocrats Their main goal has been to get property prices back to 2007 bubble levels and to hell with the consequences. All those who bought in to that bubble full endorse this craven policy.

        1. Andrew

          Unwillingness to build social housing, unwillingness to tax second homes properly, pulling back from LPT increases. continuing to allow REIT’s use section 101’s to actually change the market and buy entire developments for buy to let.
          Inability to implement anything that might increase supply and lower prices.
          Appointing an errand boy as minister for housing, someone who has never actually held a job of any significance before with zero demonstrable evidence he has any clue as to what he is doing. If you were interested in solving the housing situation why appoint someone like that? Just because he’s your friend? is that it?

        2. LeopoldGloom

          Could also succintly put it this way. They have no policy. They’re no better than FF, just do it slightly differently.

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