Finian McGrath: what he said about the HPV vaccine and when

While in opposition, Mr McGrath asked the government to remove access to the vaccine

While in Opposition, Finian McGrath submitted a written question to then Minister for Health Leo Varadkar on March 22nd, 2016.

“To ask the Minister for Health to remove the human papilloma virus vaccine Gardasil as a matter of priority and support the Reaction and Effects of Gardasil Resulting in Extreme Trauma parent group; and if he will make a statement on the matter.”

Mr McGrath was appointed Minister of State with responsibility for disability on May 6th, 2016.

He told the Sunday Times last week: “I did ask that question at the time because I had major concerns about the HPV vaccine.

“My current position is of course that those concerns have to be examined and looked at carefully. I won’t be rowing back from that position because of some of the events internationally.

“I think somewhere in the region of 30 per cent of reported events are categorised as very serious...I think that’s in the UK. I’m 99 per cent sure. It’s something I saw earlier on in the office, I’m nearly positive.”

On Sunday Mr McGrath released a statement confirming he raised concerns while in Opposition.

“I stand over the fact that I raised it because concerned parents asked me to raise it. Parents have a right to voice any concerns they have relating to vaccines or any form of medication being introduced for their children. Personally and as Minister of State with responsibility for disabilities, I do accept that such vaccines are a very important part of Government health strategy.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris subsequently released a statement in which he said he had received assurances from Mr McGrath that he supported the new campaign to encourage parents to avail of the HPV vaccine.

Speaking to Morning Ireland on Monday of this week, Mr McGrath said he only intended to have “debate and discussion” surrounding the vaccine and that it is his “duty as an independent member of the Oireachtas to constantly challenge all decisions and represent views of parents that have concerns”.

Mr McGrath said he and Minister for Health Simon Harris “have different views but we are very united in the whole issue of public safety and the safety of the vaccines”.

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan is Acting Features Editor of The Irish Times