Irish PM Apologizes as Cancer Screening Controversy Grows

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(Bloomberg) -- Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar apologized for his government’s handling of a cancer screening scandal, as he moved to contain an escalating controversy.

More than 200 women diagnosed with cancer may have had their symptoms missed after routine screening tests. The head of the country’s health system quit Thursday, while internal memos emerged showing officials at Ireland’s health ministry knew about issues with a cervical cancer screening program at least two years ago. Varadkar, a medical doctor and former health minister, said he was not made aware of the problem until this week.

“People are justifiably angry,” Varadkar told reporters in Dublin on Friday. “While nobody had a cancer diagnosis withheld from them, important information was not shared.”

The episode is piling more pressure on the government as it grapples with Brexit. Varadkar has warned Ireland needs to see clear progress on the question of how to avoid infrastructure on the Irish border after Britain exits the European Union next month if the U.K. and EU are to agree a withdrawal agreement by October.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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