There is a disconnect in this country between the powers that be and the rest of us
playbook — express regret, deny all responsibility and then refuse to step down because you want to sort it out.
But this didn’t just land on an unsuspecting O’Brien’s desk one morning.
As far back as 2008, Dr David Gibbons of the National Cervical Screening Programme, was warning about the dangers of outsourcing smear tests and the possibility of missed cases or misdiagnosed cancer.
Dr Gibbons brought his concerns to the head of the National Screening Service and was so appalled at the indifferent response that he resigned in protest.
The head of the National Screening Service at the time? Take a bow, Tony O’Brien.
It’s often said that we live in a two-tier society and when it comes to accepting responsibility, that is definitely the case.
It seems obvious that if anything of the kind had occurred in a private company, heads would have rolled and Tony O’Brien would have been the first to go.
It was announced yesterday that he is to ‘take a leave of absence’ from the board of Evofem Biosciences, the US firm he joined earlier this year.
This will provide little consolation to those affected, and it merely raises questions about why the head of the HSE was allowed to double job.
At the time of writing, he was still hanging on to his €190k day job.
No doubt his expressions of remorse are sincere, but it’s hard to muster much empathy for a man who first heard about such a possibility a decade ago.
Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that: “This isn’t just about targeting individuals or looking for heads to roll.”
Why not? The people calling for heads to roll aren’t some Twitter mob offended by loose words.
They’re women who have suffered at the hands of their own nation’s health service. Had they had received the correct results at the time, they could have taken measures to save themselves earlier.
People are angry, but worse than that, they’re scared and they have to cope with the hideous possibility that they have been simply left to die. Will heads roll? Unlikely. That’s just not how it’s done in Official Ireland...