Heads should roll over the cervical check scandal, declared the councillors of the Portlaoise Municipal District, calling for a reform of the health board in the wake of the revelations that 209 women in Ireland were not informed of smear test reviews.
At the last meeting of the Portlaoise Municipal District in Laois County Hall, Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald expressed her horror at what was going on with the cervical check screening, with huge concern, heartbreak and sadness.
“I feel shame and anger that it’s happening in this country,” she said. “Anyone can made a mistake, but when you have cover-ups it’s incredible and unbelievable. I can’t understand why people weren’t contacted. People are going to die, someone has to be responsible and accountable.”
She went on to emphasis that screening programmes are successful and there are many benefits, but no one has any trust in the system.
“We have to speak out and say how sad it is,” said Cllr Fitzgerald.
Cllr Mary Sweeney agreed it was the most upsetting issue that has affected women.
Relating that her own mother died of cervical cancer, Cllr Sweeney said the worst thing about the recent scandal was the cover up.
“I want somebody’s head to roll,” she said. “To have people working in that system who collaborated and covered up, no words of mine can give any comfort. Heads will have to roll.”
Supporting the discussion, Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley said it was heartbreaking to see and no one knows the local impact this could have.
“An awful lot of women out there are scared, this brings the whole screening process into question, the confidence is gone,” said Cllr Dwane Stanley.
“They were more concerned about the bad publicity, the Minister for Health was totally kept in the dark.
Cllr Dwane Stanley also said: “All women have said they want women to continue getting the cervical checks done.”
“Let it be a golden opportunity to reform the health board.”
Cllr John Joe Fennelly noted that women, families and children have all been affected by this. He asked those responsible to sort things out and get the health service back to what it was.
Cllr Willie Aird said it was a terrible, horrific thing to happen.
“Sorry is no good to the people and children left behind,” he said. “There’s nobody sitting on a monthly basis who is answerable.”
Cllr Aird said that people need to have trust in the HSE and screening has to continue.