Ireland’s progress in implementing Scally recommendations under scrutiny

Inside Politics: Government hears recommendations on refugee housing, and Donohoe learns his fate

Good morning.

There’s lots of coverage this morning of the report from Dr Gabriel Scally on the implementation of his recommendations to government after the CervicalCheck scandal brought to light by the late Vicky Phelan.

Dr Scally, who conducted the original report on the affair for government after it came to light, was asked by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to conduct a review this year on how the recommendations in his 2018 report were being implemented.

Yesterday, Dr Scally said that very substantial progress had been made in implementing the recommendations but described open disclosure – whereby doctors are required to inform patients of any mistakes made or issues arising in their care – as a “process in the making” and that there was “much more work to be done”.


It was the failure to inform women that their smear tests were misread (after a routine audit brought this to light) that triggered much of the outrage when the scandal broke. Missed warning signs are a feature of all screening programmes; but the failure to inform women about their own health records was a choice by the doctors and officials involved.

In response, the then government promised to introduce mandatory open disclosure, but there is significantmedical resistance to this.

Dr Scally also said yesterday that he was “astounded” there is a prohibition in law against people making a complaint to the HSE about a clinical judgment made by a doctor working for the health service. He was also intensely critical of reports that doctors had declined to treat some of the women affected by the misreading of smear tests because they were campaigning for greater patient disclosure. “I’ve been treated like a leper,” one woman told him.

The full report by Simon Carswell and Cormac McQuinn is here.

Refugee accommodation

Elsewhere this morning, there is further coverage of the difficulties in accommodating refugees from the Ukraine war, and other people coming to Ireland to seek asylum, or international protection. Jennifer Bray reports that the Government has been advised to use emergency planning legislation to quickly build six reception centres to deal with the growing numbers of refugees arriving here. While refugees from Ukraine make up the great bulk of the numbers arriving here – and are automatically accepted, under an EU agreement – the numbers of those arriving from other countries and claiming asylum have shot up since last year. The issue is the focus of much political hand-wringing after a number of protests in the East Wall area of Dublin, objecting to the arrival of about 100 asylum seekers to be housed in a converted office building.

The recommendations to Government also suggest that fast-build family accommodation be erected quickly for thousands of families, and that a new refugee agency be established to deal with the higher levels of migration that now appear to be inevitable.

This is an issue that all parties are approaching with extreme caution – conscious that the public has reservations about accepting large numbers of refugees, but also wary of the way Ireland’s small but vocal far-right is seeking to weaponise the issue politically. Simon Coveney warned about the latter yesterday, as Conor Lally reports.

(All this was also discussed on the Inside Politics podcast yesterday.)

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe will find out later today if he is unopposed for a second term as president of the Eurogroup, the powerful group of euro zone finance ministers. Mandarins were optimistic of this last night, but taking nothing for granted. Straws in the wind suggest that Donohoe’s main rival last time, the Spaniard Nadia Calvino, will not stand – which could clear the way for him. Considering he won’t be Minister for Finance after mid-December, this will be quite the coup if he pulls it off.

Best reads

Newton Emerson wonders about the northern policy of the incoming Taoiseach

The two rebel Greens are back in the fold. But how long will they last?

In East Wall you have a protest. In Sandymount you threaten legal action

Kitty Holland reports on the effects of anti-social behaviour and crime in Ballyfermot

No second Scottish independence referendum, says UK supreme court. At least not one that’s legally binding


Taoiseach Micheál Martin is in Paris today to meet French president Emmanuel Macron. Here’s Lara Marlowe’s assessment of Franco-Irish relations.

And as noted above, Paschal Donohoe will hear about the Eurogroup today.

The Dail meets at 9am for defence questions, followed by education questions and then Leaders’ Questions at noon, usually with the second-in-commands on a Thursday. The afternoon sees statements on abuse at Blackrock College and other institutions, and the Government is bound to be pressed about its plans for an inquiry on the issue.

It’s Government legislation all day in the Seanad, while at the committees, the highlight is undoubtedly a discussion about the future of media at the communications committee, with representatives from local and national newspapers, local and national radio, community radio and academics from DCU’s institute for the future of democracy and the media. The discussion, you feel, could be a lengthy one. The rest of the day in the Oireachtas is here.

Finally, at the World Cup today, it’s Switzerland v Cameroon, Uruguay v South Korea, Portugal v Ghana and Brazil v Serbia.