Cathie Shiels

The Workers’ Party will hold a protest today at the Department of Health, calling for action against  “the infestation of rats” inside the HSE. The protest comes in the wake of multiple alleged leaks of confidential information relating to abortion patients. 

Cathie Shiels, candidate for the Workers’ Party in Ballymun-Finglas, said:

“It is becoming increasingly clear that there are rats in the HSE undermining women’s healthcare. The purpose of our masked ‘rats’ protest here today is to represent the scale of the data breaches, the deception, and the covert behaviour that has infected the HSE. Until it is rooted out, no woman can confidently access abortion care in our hospitals.

  “It is appalling to think that there are people malicious enough to jeopardise patient confidentiality working in our healthcare system. Unfortunately, there are a small minority of people in Ireland who hold contempt for any woman who finds herself needing an abortion, and it makes sense that some of those people happen to work in the HSE and in our hospitals.”

Shiels, who is a founding member of the Abortion Rights Campaign, said: 

“It was clear since our abortion legislation was introduced that more robust protections for women accessing abortions would be needed – both for issues such as this, but also to prevent against harassment accessing abortions in our public hospitals. 

“Now is the test for our so-called “liberal” Fine Gael cabinet. Is Simon Harris actually willing to take on the HSE and ensure women can securely access abortion, or was he just there last May for the photo opp?” 

Shiels slammed the HSE’s internal investigations of the matters, concluding: 

“There is minimal public trust in the HSE at this point in time, and for very good reason. The public, and in particular women, have seen too many cover-ups and scandals in recent years to have any faith in an internal investigation. 

“Maliciously passing a patient’s data on to an outside source should at a minimum be discussed with the GardaĆ­, particularly given the allegation that there was an attempt to lure the woman in question to an anti-abortion “clinic” on Berkeley Road. I am calling on Simon Harris to instruct the HSE to commission an external, independent review of the case, and to immediately begin the work of establishing a code of conduct to ensure all HSE staff are capable of facilitating abortion care without bias or prejudice.”