Belfast Telegraph

Assembly rejects petition for better cervical screening

By Donna Deeney

A petition with more than 100,000 signatures calling for better cervical cancer screening has been accepted by Westminster but rejected by Stormont, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

The news comes as a cervical cancer awareness day held for Sorcha Glenn, who died of the disease aged 23, is set to be held in Parliament Buildings next week.

Sorcha passed away just over one year ago after she was initially refused a test because it was only being offered to women over 25, even though she had a family history of the condition.

Members of Sorcha’s family will join the chair of the Health Committee, Maeve McLaughlin, who is hosting the memorial.

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But Sorcha’s sister expressed disappointment after Stormont rejected her petition for extended screening because it was online.

However, it gathered enough signatures for the matter to be taken to the floor of the House of Commons for discussion.

A spokeswoman for the Assembly said possible changes to the rules governing petitions could soon be put into force.

She explained: “The petition must be physically presented to the Speaker as a hard copy. The Assembly Committee for Procedures is currently undertaking a review of the procedures.”

Ms McLaughlin said: “Sorcha’s tragic death last year at just 23 highlights the devastating impact cervical cancer can have on families and communities. Too many woman of all ages are dying.”

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Members of Sorcha’s family thanked Ms McLaughlin for her support. Sorcha’s sister, Orlagh Robson, said: “Maeve has been extremely interested in our campaign from the outset.

“This will be an important step towards keeping up awareness of signs, symptoms and the need to have testing on demand available to women of all ages.

“We were disappointed that the petition to the House of Commons was not able to be presented in Stormont, but it has succeeded in getting the issue on the agenda for discussion in the House of Commons which we hope will be some time in 2016.

“While we wait, Mark Durkan has already raised Sorcha’s premature death and the need for screening on demand during Prime Minister's Questions.”

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