The newly appointed Interim Director of the National Cancer Control Programme has said Ireland's poor cancer outcomes are an issue of fragmentation of resources not a result of a lack of good staff or a gross deficiency in resources.

Professor Tom Keane was addressing consultants and nurse specialists at the Mater Northeast Cancer Network this evening.

He defended the Government's plans to establish centres of excellence, saying it was now a matter of convincing the public, and he called on oncology professionals to 'step forward'.

He added that if Ireland did not implement the National Cancer Strategy within two to five years, services would start to slip backwards.