WOMEN impacted by the cervical cancer screening scandal are not alone — that’s the message going out from rallies tonight at Cork City Hall and multiple other locations around the country.
It is now more than a month since the revelations first broke after Vicky Phelan went public with her story of terminal developing cancer after signs of abnormal cell activity were missed in a 2011 smear test. Since then it has been revealed that at least 209 women who went on to develop cancer were not told earlier smear tests were incorrectly read. Some of those women are going to Dáil Eireann at 5pm and it is in support of them that gatherings are being held nationwide.
Rachael O’Sullivan of the Cork branch of Standing 4 Women said the Government needs to know how much public support the women have: “The women are making public demands and what we are coordinating is a solidarity movement around Ireland. We are asking people to come wearing red and show the Government and the HSE that these are not just individuals taking them on, the people of Ireland are behind them.”
It emerged this week that some of the women have still not received details of the CervicalCheck internal review. CervicalCheck released the reviews in 2016 but they were not passed on to 162 of the 209 women.
Ms O’Sullivan said the current treatment of these women is not acceptable: “The information they are getting is coming in dribs and drabs, it's not being followed up, things are getting delayed and going to committee,” she said.
While people gather countrywide, the women at the heart of the scandal will make requests of the Government. “There is an upcoming bill on mandatory disclosure and they need this bill to go through in order for them to get access to their information. They are also looking for a single point of contact. They have no-one to actually go to at the moment, to find out information.”
“You have people like Vicky [Phelan] and Emma [Mhic Mhathúna] who have gone public but there are 209 women involved, they need a single point of contact.
“They are looking for multidisciplinary support, access to medical cards and things they were promised weeks ago. What is happening is delays, and different people saying different things but they need it now.”
A number of rallies are also taking part around the county, including in Youghal, Macroom and Midleton.