‘Get off your high horse and help’ - Kilkenny's Vicky Phelan challenges critics

Sian Moloughney

Reporter:

Sian Moloughney

Vicky Phelan

Vicky and Jim Phelan at the reception to honour her at County Hall, earlier this summer. PICTURE: PAT MOORE

Kilkenny woman Vicky Phelan, whose High Court case exposed the Cervical Check Scandal, has taken a step back from her public campaigning role.

On her personal Twitter the Mooncoin woman announced she will be taking a break from all campaigning because she needs a break ‘before she becomes bitter’ and because her two children need their mammy.

Vicky, who has been outspoken about the need for a cervical cancer screening programme that can be trusted, following the revelations that there were errors in her own test results, also told her Twitter followers that she is “deeply disturbed by the lack of empathy in some quarters towards the women and families affected by the scandal.”

She also called on her critics to ‘get off their high horses’ and help work for a screening process that works.

“For those of you who are condemning me for 'bringing down the cervical screening programme', I never missed a smear and never had an abnormal smear until I was diagnosed in July 2014 with invasive cervical cancer.

“IF my smear in 2011 had been correctly read, I would only have had to have a hysterectomy and would have had a 90% chance of being cured. I will be fighting to stay alive for the rest of my life so forgive me if I am angry and upset and fighting for change.

“I want a screening programme that I can trust. I have a daughter that I will be leaving behind. So get off your high horses and help me to change and to ensure that we have a screening programme that we can trust.”

However Vicky assured people that she is just taking a break from her public role of the last few months and plans to return to the campaign. “I will be back but I need a break before I become bitter, and my children need their Mammy.”

Earlier this summer the members of Kilkenny County Council paid warm tribute to Vicky when they held a civic reception in her honour.

Cathaoirleach of the County Council, David Fitzgerald, presented Vicky with her civic honour and told her: “The people of Kilkenny are proud of their daughter and all that she has done.”

The mother-of-two received civic recognition from Kilkenny County Council for her bravery in highlighting issues with the cervical screening programme and her service to the people of Ireland.

Speaking at that reception Vicky said: “I’m just a normal woman. A normal mother; with a normal job, there’s nothing special about me.

“One person can make change. You just have to believe in it and do it.”

Vicky said she had refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement in her case after learning that she was not the only woman affected.

Her story sparked revelations that at least 162 women with cervical cancer had not been informed about CervicalCheck audit results and past false tests.