Bienvenue to our visitors. I wish them a pleasant stay.
It is now ten weeks since the lid was lifted on the appalling collapse in standards at CervicalCheck and the failure to communicate that collapse. It is ten weeks since the courage of Vicky Phelan in fighting her case and resisting enormous legal pressure to sign a gagging order came into the public domain. Let us never forget that if Vicky Phelan had signed that gagging order, the public may never have heard of what is facing hundreds of women across the country. It is nine weeks since Emma Mhic Mhathúna stopped the country in its tracks when she spoke on "Morning Ireland". Her interview shook the country to its core. If the Tánaiste needs to hear of the impact that this failure of the State has had on people's lives, he should listen to Emma's interview with Miriam O'Callaghan a few minutes ago on "Today with Sean O'Rourke" wherein she described how her condition has deteriorated because of that failure. It is nine weeks since there was an emergency Cabinet meeting on the issue, the resignation of the director general of the HSE and promises from the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, that they were going to do everything to resolve this matter, use every possible resource to so do and that there would be no delays.
However, we now see the falsity of those promises. RTÉ News, an organisation which has a special place in the Taoiseach's heart, today reported that the independent review of 3,000 smear tests has yet to begin. That news is not new. Justine McCarthy, in an article in The Sunday Times on 17 June, reported that the delay was likely. When the review was announced by the Taoiseach in the House on 2 May, he committed to it being completed by the end of May. Today is 5 July but the review has yet to commence.
Why did the Taoiseach come to the House and make a promise he knew he could not keep to a group of women who had already been let down by the State? When he made that announcement on 2 May, he stated that he wished to restore confidence in our cancer screening programmes. All Members wish for him and the Government to so do. However, all we got on 2 May were words to get him through Leaders' Questions but on which there has been no follow through. The failure to follow through on those commitments has further undermined the confidence which all Members wish to be restored.
I do not ask the Tánaiste for answers or sympathy but, rather, a plan. Does he understand the distress, pain and worry through which those women and their families are going? The Tánaiste should not try to get out of the Chamber and hope we do not ask more questions on this issue because we will keep asking questions. I ask him for an exact timeline for the commencement and conclusion of the review. Will the scope of the Scally inquiry be adjusted as the review is important to its findings? I ask the Tánaiste to confirm the accuracy of the figures presented to the Committee of Public Accounts this morning which indicate that 221 women have been affected. Can he confirm that all of those women have received medical cards and financial support as promised by the Taoiseach on 2 May?