Longford councillor calls for cervical check payment hike

Cllr Peggy Nolan

Cllr Peggy Nolan has called on Health Minister Simon Harris to increase ex gratia payments to women affected by the cervical check furore from €2,000 to €50,000.

Health Minister Simon Harris is coming under pressure to step in and increase an immediate ex gratia payment to women affected by the Cervical Check controversy from €2,000 to €50,000.

It comes after local politicians unanimously voted in favour of passing a motion calling on the Wicklow TD to provide additional financial support to those affected and their families.

The appeal was made by Fine Gael Cllr Peggy Nolan at last week's meeting of Longford County Council as she called for a suspension to standing orders in an attempt to address the issue.

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"I am asking that this council take the initiative to ask the Minister with immediate effect to make an interim payment to the 209 women whose lives are now in danger because of this scandal of €50,000 to those families," she said.

Cllr Nolan's impassioned appeal following a government agreement to approve an immediate ex-gratia payment of €2,000 to each woman affected by the fallout.

The Cabinet on Tuesday signed off on a proposal by Dr Gabriel Scally, the chair of an independent scoping inquiry, to provide money to each of the 209 women and to the next of kin of any women who has passed away.

Appearing more and more emotional as she continued her address, Cllr Nolan also called for the motion to be circulated to all other local authorities.

She said the payment was needed now and ahead of a State redress scheme that would be set up to assist those affected.

"It’s the least they deserve and while it won’t replace a mother, grandmother, sister or an aunt but it will certainly ease the terrible burden on those families," she said.

The council's only other female representative Cllr Mae Sexton was quick to endorse the proposal, saying the Cervical Check furore was just the latest calamity to affect women.

"The kinds of barriers these women have faced just to get information has been scandalous," she said.

"Women in this country have suffered scandal after scandal by successive State agencies and it is a disgrace that they haven't learned their lesson."

A string of other local representatives opted to take aim at the extent of monies which had been offered to women caught up in the scandal.

Cllr John Browne branded the €2,000 ex-gratia payment as a “complete insult” in criticism which was further backed up by Cllr Seamus Butler.

He called the four figure sum “derisory” while Cathaoirleach Cllr Martin Mulleady paid tribute to Cllrs Nolan and Sexton for upholding the interests of women by calling for the increase.

“It’s (Cervical Check) a massive problem that the HSE started and it’s very good that they have shown just how an important an issue it is,” he said.

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