Minister for Health Simon Harris will today bring to Government the Heads of the Bill to establish an alternative process for women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy.

The bill follows the recommendations of Mr Justice Charles Meenan and will establish a tribunal.

Mr Harris described the move as an "important step in protecting women" and he said the Government was eager to provide as many alternatives to the courts system as possible.

He said he hoped to have the legislation passed before the summer recess. 

Mr Harris said it was his priority to protect rewards such as those handed down to Ruth Morrissey. He said he believed he would find a way to protect the award in her case.

The tribunal that will be chaired by Ms Justice Mary Irvine will be optional and women, or their next-of-kin, can still choose to go to court.

More than 200 women have been affected by the crisis that saw the misreading of hundreds of cervical smear tests, leading to some women developing terminal cancer.

The Government says the aim of the tribunal is for hearings to be less adversarial and quicker.

The tribunal's hearings will be held in private, unless the woman or the next-of-kin requests it to be held in public.

The tribunal is also seeking to allow women discuss their experiences.

These discussions will not form part of any legal proceedings, but they could form the basis of a report that would then be sent to the minister.

The legislation going to Government today could be passed by the Oireachtas before the summer recess and this would allow the tribunal to be up and running by the autumn.


Read more:

Tribunal process proposed for CervicalCheck cases
CervicalCheck report reveals wider outsourcing of screening tests


Additional reporting: Sharon Gaffney