Minister for Health Simon Harris has said he assured Dr Gabriel Scally that he is "fully empowered" to "request any and all documentation that he requires" to conclude his inquiry.

There have been concerns that Dr Scally, who is carrying out an inquiry into the CervicalCheck controversy, has been provided with scanned versions of documents that had originally existed in electronic form.

Such scanned documents are not searchable.

Mr Harris said Dr Scally told him that he had been in contact with the HSE today and had outlined clearly the documentation that he requires, and the format.

Earlier Dr Scally had criticised the fact that he had not received the documentation in a searchable format.

"I expect him to receive that. I told him if he had any difficulty in attaining that to come back to me directly," Mr Harris said.

Mr Harris also said he spoke to the Director General of the HSE himself, who assured him that the HSE was 'very eager to co-operate in full and would do everything it could to provide documents in the most appropriate format'.

He said Dr Scally had also met with the Department of Health in recent days and was quite content with the documents they were providing.

"I am satisfied that Dr Scally has had good discussions and good engagements today. I wanted to take the opportunity to talk to him directly to reiterate that he is fully empowered by me and the Government and if he comes across any problems, he needs to bring it to my direct attention," Mr Harris said. 

"He has a really important job work to do. We are depending on him doing it well. I have no doubt he will do it well. I want to make sure he is fully supported in that. That is why I spoke to the HSE today as well," the minister added.

Asked if Dr Scally would still be able to meet his deadline of the end of the summer, he said that Dr Scally had a very ambitious terms of reference, and it is really important that all agencies cooperate with him.

Yesterday, a progress report from the Scally Inquiry was published.

Meanwhile, the Fianna Fáil leader has called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to make the current investigation into a Commission of Investigation.

Micheál Martin said a Commission of Investigation would give Dr Scally "teeth" if his inquiry was on a statutory footing.

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Earlier, Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall said the women at the centre of the CervicalCheck controversy needed to know about the accuracy rates of the laboratories involved.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Ms Shortall also called for information regarding the tendering process and the terms of contracts of these labs to be made known.

She said getting these facts out into the public arena at an early stage would clarify things for the women concerned as time was of the essence because many women were very sick.

Six recommendations

Among six recommendations were that the CervicalCheck consent form should guarantee that women will have full and open access to their cervical screening record on request; and that the information for women accompanying the consent form should guarantee that should there be a problem, or error of any significance with the screening or reporting process, open disclosure of all the details would take place in a timely, considerate and accurate manner.

Ms Shortall said that women were wondering whether they should go ahead and take a legal action.

"They don't know whether there's negligence involved in their case or not and that information should be provided at an early stage to them so they can take advice from their legal advisers and decide how they're going to proceed," she said.

She also said the HSE needed to be told to sort out and deal with providing documentation in a usable and manageable format to the Scally Inquiry quickly.

Inquiry timeframe 'unrealistic'

The Chair of the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee has said the timeframe for the scoping exercise into the controversy was unrealistic and unfair to the women affected.

Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming said he was not a bit surprised that it was going to take so long as the issues that have arisen were all foreseeable in advance.

Speaking on the same programme, he said: "My own personal view is the HSE haven't been fully forthcoming with the information available in their own system, in the Oireachtas Committees and to Dr Scally.

"I think there has been a lack of candour and openness in dealing with this and that was foreseeable as well, because that's what happens in big organisations that try and cover their tracks."

Sinn Féin's health spokesperson Louise O'Reilly said it did not appear that the Minister for Health or the Taoiseach was in control of the situation.

Ms O'Reilly said the HSE should be cooperating fully and making sure that all of the information was being made available.