A "reset" is needed across Ireland's CervicalCheck programme, campaigner Lorraine Walsh of the 221+ support group has urged.

"There is a reset required here and it has to come from the top.

"Cultural change comes from the top. The whole system has the same cultural beliefs.

"It has to change across the board for everybody from the top down."

Ms Walsh was speaking to RTÉ's News At One programme following comments reported in The Sunday Times at the weekend - attributed to Dr Nóirín Russell, Clinical Director of the CervicalCheck screening programme - that the courts were wrong to rule in favour of the women.

The report referenced a recorded conversation in 2020 between Dr Russell and Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín on CervicalCheck issues.

In a statement, Dr Russell said that reflecting on her comments then, she fully accepts they were careless and hurtful to women.

She had only recently taken up her post at the time and the comments "do not reflect" her views now. She said she knows her remarks, made in what she "trusted" was "a private meeting", were "inconsiderate and hurtful".

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Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly yesterday said commentary that adds to the distress and hurt of women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy is "very regrettable".

Ms Walsh said she was "upset but not surprised" at the comments.

"This is a narrative that we’ve seen from within the Cervical Check programme for some time.

"It’s very much deny the past, rewrite the past, rewrite what happened in relation to the CervicalCheck failures and the women that were failed by the system.

"Is she sorry that she got caught or is she sorry for what she said? They are two different things," she said.

"The women of Ireland must be blue in the face at this stage listening to what has happened with CervicalCheck.

"It’s important for them to have confidence in the system going forward but the person that’s eroding the confidence in the system is the Clinical Director with her comments."

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he is surprised by the comments made by the Clinical Director of CervicalCheck.

Mr Martin said it was important that everybody, including clinicians, accept the findings of the Scally Report, given the Government accepted the report in its entirety.

Speaking in Co Cork this evening, Mr Martin said he did not accept at all the view that people were going to the Tribunal on the basis of just to get compensation.

He said there were "legitimate issues" with quite a number of the women affected and the manner in which certain screening was done and that is what would concern him about the comments made.

The controversy relates to an hour-long call in December 2020 involving Dr Nóirín Russell, the Clinical Director of CervicalCheck and deputy Peadar Tobin, leader of Aontu.

Paul Reid, HSE Chief, has sought to diffuse the row.

He said he regretted the remarks Dr Russell had made and that they do not reflect the view of CervicalCheck or the HSE.

He said Dr Russell had apologised very sincerely, adding that she will work hard to regain trust lost.

The latest controversy follows a separate complaint made by 221+ last week, accusing CervicalCheck of an attempt to rewrite history in the affair.

The cancer survivor campaign group was upset by some of the content in a 'Guide to talking about cervical screening' issued by CervicalCheck to the media, broadcasters, commentators and academics.