Speaking in Tuesday night’s Dáil debate on the Sinn Féin Private Members Motion, Sinn Fein Louth TD Gerry Adams called on the government to end its insistence on fighting every compensation case exhaustively through the courts.
He also said that there is now an “imperative on the government to urgently introduce, before the summer recess, strong legislation requiring mandatory open disclosure in the HSE.”
The Louth TD said:
“A Cheann Chomhairle, the daily drip feed of revelations around the cervical cancer smear scandal, and the reports into the deaths of babies in the Portiuncula and Portlaoise hospitals, have undermined confidence in the health care service. They have also added to the trauma of the families affected.
Without the remarkable courage of Vicky Phelan, the cervical smear scandal might never have become public. Her rejection of a demand that she sign a confidentiality agreement was a hugely courageous and selfless act. Her example demands that this Oireachtas be equally courageous and resolute in how we confront and tackle this scandal.
There is now an imperative on the government to urgently introduce, before the summer recess, strong legislation requiring mandatory open disclosure in the HSE.
Nothing less will do. Nothing less will work. Nothing less is acceptable.
The distress and grief of Stephen Teap, Paul Reck, Emma Mhic Mhathúna, and of so many others demands that this government take all of the steps necessary to ensure there is no repeat of this, or any of the other scandals that have bedevilled the health service over the years. Sadly, there have been too many.
In the 1990’s over a thousand people, mainly women, were infected with contaminated blood products. The Blood Transfusion Service Board were warned about this but failed to tell those who had received the products. A report published three years ago revealed that at least 260 people who were infected with Hepatitis C had died in the 20 years since the facts first emerged.
Another victim of the culture of secrecy and cover-up is Louise O’Keefe. It took her 15 years to win her legal battle forcing the government to pay her compensation for the abuse she had endured as a pupil.
There are many elderly women victims of symphysiotomy who are still fighting for truth and compensation. And none of us can forget the women victims of the Magdalene Laundries or the mother and baby homes, or Savita Halappanavar or the countless others.
Nor should we forget that this government and previous governments have forced many of these women to fight long, expensive, stressful legal battles. The government approach is to fight every case tooth and nail.
This too has to change. The government has said it will not oppose our motion. That is not the same as supporting it. I am therefore appealing to every Teachta Dalaí to support the Sinn Féin motion, and the need for justice and support for the women affected, and for the families of those women who have tragically died.
And I am appealing to government to go beyond its position tonight by speedily introducing the legislation needed for mandatory open disclosure. This is a necessary and immediate step in rebuilding confidence in the healthcare service”.