UP to 800 people took to the streets of Cork at the weekend to seek change in Ireland’s health service, amidst the CervicalCheck controversy which has impacted 209 women across the country.
It was revealed last week in the Evening Echo that 24 women who attended the cancer centre in Cork University Hospital received incorrect smear test results.
Eighteen women have died in relation to the CervicalCheck controversy nationwide, the Health Service Executive (HSE) revealed last week, with efforts still ongoing to contact all 209 women who received incorrect smear test results or their next of kin.
Protesters have called for more advanced screening for cervical cancer and warned of bigger protests ahead.
The march got underway on Saturday at Bishop Lucey Park at 3pm and saw protesters walk down Patrick Street and onto City Hall.
“This is only the start,” said Nikola Barrett, protest organiser and blogger. “We plan on taking them to Dublin too.”
The husband of Cork woman Irene Teap, who passed away after receiving an incorrect smear, sent a message of support to the protest.
“Stephen Teap sent us beautiful encouraging words of support,” said Ms Barrett.
She said that the current CervicalCheck system is not fit for purpose and that the women of Ireland deserve better.
“The atmosphere was amazing and the message is very clear,” said Ms Barrett.
“We want accountability, consequences, change and no more outsourcing of our smear tests.
“Cervical Check is not fit for purpose and must be replaced with a safer, more advanced screening process,” she added.
“Currently in Ireland, CervicalCheck provides a regular screening which is way down the list because it is cheaper.
“We want the most advanced screening there is.
“We demand it and we deserve it.”
Ms Barrett said organisers were shocked at the turnout, and added that many men turned up in support.
She revealed they have set up a Facebook page ‘Women’s Lives Matter’, which she said will be a hub of information and support for the women of Cork and Ireland.
It will also contain information on upcoming protests or demonstrations.