The Government has said it wants to see all the cases involved in the CervicalCheck controversy dealt with through mediation, but accepts that everyone still has a right to go to court.

A spokesperson was responding to criticism that the Taoiseach and Minister for Health made false promises when they said no woman caught up in the controversy would have to go to court.

The Government spokesperson said mediation is offered in every case and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister Simon Harris have made their wishes clearly known.

He said the Government is aware that the State Claims Agency has written to the two laboratories involved requesting that they join it in resuming mediation talks as soon as possible with Ruth Morrissey's legal team.

Mrs Morrissey is taking a legal action over two cervical smears taken under the CervicalCheck screening  programme in 2009 and 2012.

She gave evidence over two days in the High Court earlier this week.

Labour Health spokesperson Alan Kelly said the Taoiseach "needs to come out of hiding" and speak to the nation today on the controversy.

Mr Kelly said the Taoiseach had promised in May that the State would take over the cases of all the women affected – including the laboratory component if necessary – to avoid "these women having to enduring the spectre of having to appear in court and go through publicly their own private health details".

He said this has not happened and it was a disgrace that Mrs Morrissey had to face a defence team of 17 lawyers.

In a statement this afternoon, Mr Harris said: "The Government has been very clear that we do not want to see any woman having to go to court and mediation is now offered in every case, as promised.

"Mediation should and must be conducted in a sensitive, compassionate and speedy manner, so the women and families can get the outcome they need.

"While mediation may not always succeed at first, it must remain an option in all cases".