“No place to hide” Harris demands full accountability over cervical controversy

Health Minister Simon Harris has said he wants full accountability in relation to the cervical cancer screening controversy.

Speaking to RTÉ this morning, Minster Simon Harris acknowledged last night’s resignation of HSE chief Tony O’Brien, but insisted “that does not address all of the accountability issues” arising from the scandal.

Mr O’Brien stepped down after memos emerged yesterday showing that HSE management was preparing media strategies as far back as two years ago in case issues with Cervical Check came to light.

Minister Harris said he was disgusted in relation to emerging memos: “I want know who knew what; when they knew it and I want that to be known publicly.

“It is not acceptable to me that such memos were in circulation in the HSE and in the Department of Health and it is certainly not acceptable that these memos were not even signed by individuals,” Harris said.

“There is no place to hide here; all of the facts need to be established and all of the facts will be established.

“There will be and there must be accountability here for the women of Ireland and I am absolutely determined in relation to that.”

An interim-director general for the HSE is due to be announced by Minister Harris this afternoon.

After Tony O’Brien stepped down, he took to Twitter on Friday morning to seemingly criticise members of Oireachtas committees who questioned him over the Cervical Check scandal this week: “Would I be happy for my children or my mother to see how I behave? I sometimes look across the room and hope their children will never see and hear how they behave.”

Wicklow TD John Brady has welcomed Tony O’Brien’s decision to step down as Director General of the HSE, calling Mr O’Brien’s resignation “a necessary first step”.

TD Brady said “It is regrettable that it ultimately took terminally ill women taking to the national airwaves to demand that Mr O’Brien be held to account in order to secure his resignation.

“The process of accountability must now continue; we need to see full disclosure of all the relevant information; there must be a thorough investigation of the policy of concealment and cover up strategy.”

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