Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health Dr Tony Holohan; Lorraine Walsh
RTÉ’s health correspondent Fergal Bowers, on foot of a Freedom of Information request, is reporting on correspondence he has seen between the Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health Dr Tony Holohan and CervicalCheck patient advocate Lorraine Walsh from March of this year.
Ms Walsh, from Galway, who was one of the women caught up in the CervicalCheck scandal last year, cannot conceive due to having had cervical cancer.
She is also one of the Government’s appointees to the CervicalCheck steering group.
Mr Bowers has reported that Dr Holohan – who is co-chairperson of the CervicalCheck Group – wrote to Ms Walsh on March 13 of this year taking issue with comments she had made on social media, and to print media, about him.
He reported the letter said her claims about him were “baseless” and it warned her that if she repeated the claims in public, there would be a “very strong response”.
He also asked her to withdraw the claims.
Mr Bowers reported that the letter was also released to Labour TD and the party’s health spokesperson Alan Kelly, following a parliamentary question and separate FOI request by him.
On RTÉ’s News At One, Labour TD Alan Kelly told Mr Bowers:
“I sought this information under parliamentary question in early July. The department refused to give it to me. I had to chase this for two months.
“I had to repeatedly go to the Ceann Comhairle and it was only after the Ceann Comhairle wrote to the minister that basically, telling him, that this was against the constitutional responsibilities of a minister, that we’d got to a point where this information was released to me.
“I had no faith that this information was going to be given to me so I had to put in a Freedom of Information request on top of my parliamentary question.
“TDs shouldn’t have to put in Freedom of Information requests because they believe that their parliamentary questions are not going to be answered.”
Mr Bowers told News At One that a spokesperson for the Minister for Health Simon Harris said Mr Harris was not aware of the letter in advance of it being sent from Mr Holohan to Ms Walsh.