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The State’s acknowledgement and apology through An Taoiseach to the women and families adversely impacted by the abject failures of CervicalCheck is a watershed moment.

It is an acknowledgement from the core of Government that our healthcare system was not patient centred.

It is a first step in the process of rebuilding confidence in the capacity of the State to put the patient first in the delivery of public healthcare generally, and for women’s health specifically.

For us, the acknowledgement and this apology have huge significance. They are central to the process of healing and of rebuilding our lives, and the lives of those who love, support and care for us.

We have always said however that a genuine and meaningful apology could only be possible when those delivering it have a full understanding of what they were, and are, responsible for.

Today’s statement comes after in person meetings over recent months between the women in 221+, their partners, their families and the bereaved with An Taoiseach. They spoke and he listened with great respect.  We are proud of them all.

This listening by An Taoiseach was in itself restorative and is deeply appreciated.

Those telling their story spoke simply the truth, courageously but from the heart and with quiet dignity. In reliving their experiences and articulating their fears – at times saying very difficult things – they made an enormous contribution that will serve to improve our system. We all will benefit.

Today is about the State taking responsibility for the inaction of the past. It now recognises the impact of the systemic incapacity that caused the CervicalCheck debacle and the necessity of reversing that.

What must follow is that those with the power to do so will work to establish the governance structures, the oversight, the management capacity and the quality assurance checks  which are vital to ensure that these failures will never happen again.

A blueprint has been established by the work and recommendations of Dr. Gabriel Scally, Prof Brian MacCraith and others working alongside them.

The true success of today will be measured by the resolve we see across the health system to implement all those recommendations.

With such resolve, with the support of the committed frontline staff right throughout the Health Service, dedicated as they are to public healthcare, we can move forward.

Our hope now is for a time in Ireland when no woman will ever again have cause to doubt the availability or the quality of the healthcare they receive from the State.

To those who continue, or shall commence, lonely battles through our courts we send our best wishes.   We are with you in your search for truth and justice.

To those who find it difficult to speak and who may feel alone, please know that you are never, ever, alone.

And finally, to the broken-hearted, even with all that has been said and written, words shall continue to fail us….

…we will remember always those we have loved and lost and we think of the ones we yearned to love.

And now, let the words of today – words of dignified acknowledgement and apology;

– let them help us heal our broken hearts.