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McDonald: Sinn Féin will bring CervicalCheck screening services back to Ireland

Sinn Féin president, Mary Lou McDonald, has described Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, as "cantankerous" and said she suspects there are divisions within Fianna Fáil regarding his approach to Government.

Shortly Micheál Martin would be saying he would not go into government with Fianna Fail, Ms McDonald said in Tralee where she was canvassing with party candidate Pa Daly, accompanied by outgoing TD Martin Ferris.

It is no surprise that he does not like Sinn Féin, Ms McDonald said .

"He won't do Government with Sinn Féin. He won't do Government with Fine Gael. The question really is does Micheál Martin do Government.

"Will he next be saying he won't go into Government with Fianna Fáil?"

Ms McDonald elaborated on a remark she made earlier in Killarney on Radio Kerry — she said she has never seen such "a cantankerous approach" at a time when people desperately need leadership and solutions.

She said she suspects "there have to be divisions within Fianna Fáil" because of his approach.

No sensible person would think it appropriate for someone who wanted to be Taoiseach to spend his entire time running down and criticising another party, and worse than that, excluding people Sinn Féin represent, Ms McDonald said.

Meanwhile, announcing Sinn Féin policy on CervicalCheck, smear testing should never have been sent abroad and should be brought back and analysed and tested in Ireland, Ms McDonald said, adding that that Sinn Féin will bring CervicalCheck screening services back to Ireland.

Speaking in Tralee where the late Emma Mhic Mhathúna spoke publicly before her death, she said that €16 million would begin the process which should be in place in the lifetime of the next Government.

However Sinn Féin are not privy to the terms and conditions of the outsourcing contracts the State has entered into.

The Sinn Féin president was canvassing in Co Kerry with general election candidate in Kerry, Pa Daly.

Ms McDonald said: "There has been a huge human cost to the CervicalCheck scandal and many families are today without a loved one, or dealing with the realities of a cancer diagnosis.

"The shadow of the scandal has hung over the health service and Irish society for these past few years.

"We owe it to the women affected and their families to change the system for the better, and this must involve bringing the smear testing process back home to Ireland.

The outsourcing of the testing process has been a problem, and we have seen issues around labs being added to the CervicalCheck programme without proper checks or operational due diligence being carried out.

"Outsourcing also played a part in the further mistakes that were made as regards delays of tests and the issuing of results; all of which caused further distress for women.

"It is vitally important that we have our own national screening laboratory service for CervicalCheck.

"This will be a graduated process. We will allocate €16 million to this, placing a focus on recruitment and training of specialist staff and equipping labs to the highest possible standard.

"The priority must be to ensure that women have the highest level of confidence in the screening process and we can achieve this through common-sense reforms.

"The repatriation of the smearing testing process makes sense as it allows for better oversight and quality control by health authorities here at home.

"The process should never have been outsourced in the first place. We must show that we have learned from the scandal.

"We show that the tragic and heartbreaking deaths of women such as Emma Mhic Mhathúna and Irene Teap were catalysts for sweeping reform of the CervicalCheck programme."