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Image / Editorial

Women’s health campaigner Vicky Phelan considers role in the Seanad


By Grace McGettigan
17th Feb 2020

Vicky Phelan via Twitter

Women’s health campaigner Vicky Phelan considers role in the Seanad

Women’s health advocate Vicky Phelan wants to continue campaigning for women’s healthcare in Ireland from the Seanad


Vicky Phelan is one of more than 200 Irish women to receive false-negative results for their smear tests in recent years. The mum-of-two, whose cervical smear was tested in America on behalf of CervicalCheck, had been told her results were negative in 2011. However, she was later diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Not only has Vicky gone on to successfully sue the Texas laboratory for €2.5 million, but she has also become one of Ireland’s most vocal advocates for women’s healthcare.

It is because of Vicky that the CervicalCheck scandal was brought to light, with the Limerick-native refusing to sign a non-disclosure agreement at the High Court in 2018. Since then, she has been working tirelessly to raise awareness for the symptoms of cervical cancer, as well as the life-changing Pembro drug available to treat it.

Now, Vicky is reportedly considering a role in the Seanad.

The go-ahead

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Vicky said she’s interested in becoming an independent senator; adding that she’s been considering a role in politics for some time. However, before she could decide to go for it or not, she sought the go-ahead from her consultant oncologist John Crown.

“Because of my medical situation, I had to check whether or not this is something I could do,” she told the newspaper. “Part of that was worrying if [he] tells me I can’t. He could have said, ‘No, Vicky. I don’t think you should do this.’ That would have meant he didn’t think I had a long time left.”

The good news is Crown has given her the go-ahead.

There are a number of ways in which Vicky can become one of 60 members of the Seanad. First, she can be elected from a panel of candidates representing various vocational interests; 43 of these are elected by members of the incoming Dáil, the outgoing Seanad and county and city councillors; while a further six senators are elected by registered graduates of NUI and Trinity College.

Alternatively, Vicky can ask the new Taoiseach (whoever that may be) to nominate her for one of the 11 remaining seats.

So far, the news of Vicky’s potential venture into politics has been well-received, with one Twitter user saying, “Absolutely makes sense for advocates who have suffered at the hands of inept departments to advise and help in the process for change.”

Photo: Vicky Phelan via Twitter


Read more: HPV and the HPV vaccine: the facts (and myths) you need to know

Read more: ‘I feel a responsibility to share my story’: More Irish women die from heart disease than breast cancer

Read more: Ovarian cancer: 410 women in Ireland diagnosed every year – know the facts