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‘Women of Ireland have suffered for too long’ – Cllrs hit out at smear test backlog

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Elected representatives of Clare County Council are the latest to ask their local authority to call on the Minister Health and the Taoiseach to support the Stand4Women campaign.

In November, Sinn Féin representatives in Sligo and Donegal tabled motions to their County Councils seeking an acknowledgement of Stand4Women. The group was established in response to the Cervical Check controversy and wants the individuals responsible held to account, they have held some protests the most notable being in May 2018 when it took place at 25 different locations across the country.

Last month, the HSE said women who have had smear tests are now waiting up to 27 weeks to receive the results. In January up to 82,000 women had a five month wait for details on their tests.

On Tuesday, Cllr Mike McKee put a motion to the adjourned March meeting of Clare County Council which was identical to his Sinn Féin colleagues Cllr Chris McManus (Sligo) and Cllr Marie-Therese Gallagher (Donegal).

Cllr McKee’s motion stated that in light of “the recent cervical check scandal”, they call upon to Simon Harris and Leo Varadkar “to acknowledge, support and respond in detail to the demands of the Standing4 Women campaign. These include legislation and policy on mandatory open disclosure independent of the Patient Safety Bill, provision of a start and end date and full disclosure on the 1800 smears yet to be audited, and a breakdown of the new packages being negotiated with laboratories carrying out smear slide analysis including mandatory site audits.”

“Some women waiting to be audited are dying,” McKee stated. “The Government to date have shown no real compassion, they need to fast track this”. The Shannon councillor added, “The women of Ireland have suffered for far too long, it is time to give them peace of mind”.

Fine Gael’s Mary Howard highlighted the importance of smear tests to women, “The HSE need to re-examine their way of doing work, people have died because of this”. Speaking less than 24 hours before the death of Ennis’ Laura Brennan, Howard also commented, “When you think of cervical cancer you think of our own local girl Laura Brennan who is fighting to live”.

“We’re talking about the same Minister for Health we were discussing last week,” Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy observed of the recently deferred no confidence vote in Simon Harris. The Fianna Fáil representative commended Cllr McKee for bringing forward the motion to Clare. “It begs the question, who is in charge of health services. Everything is farmed out and there is very little accountability,” Cllr Gerry Flynn maintained.

Newmarket-on-Fergus native, Páraic McMahon is a freelance journalist and broadcaster currently working for numerous national and local publications including The Clare Echo, The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent, The Irish Times, RTÉ, TheJournal.ie, The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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