• First ever dedicated political group on cancer meets today to discuss effects of COVID-19 on cancer services

A newly established Oireachtas Cross Party Group on Cancer will be a powerful voice for patients in Dáil debates and policy decisions, the Irish Cancer Society has said.

The Irish Cancer Society has supported the establishment of the group which will meet for the first time today to discuss the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer services.

The group will hear that cancer services in Ireland have faced unprecedented disruptions across screening, diagnostics and treatment in the last twelve months due to the effects of the COVID-19.

Rachel Morrogh, Director of Advocacy and External Affairs at the Irish Cancer Society said:

“There is already tremendous goodwill from policy-makers across all political parties towards issues that affect the cancer community. It is our hope that the Cross Party Group on Cancer will build on this and enable TDs and Senators to hear directly from people affected by cancer, as well as leading national and international experts. We hope that this approach will put patients and the cancer workforce at the heart of political decision-making, enabling patient-centered policy and legislation.

“Cancer care is at a critical juncture in Ireland and thankfully cancer services received record levels of funding in Budget 2021. This funding needs to be spent strategically so that progress that has been made across the cancer system over many years is not diminished by the impact of Covid-19. There is a real opportunity to chart a new course for cancer in Ireland and we hope that the Cross Party Group on Cancer will be a central part of building back a better cancer system than existed before Covid.

“The Irish Cancer Society is grateful to the members of this new Cross-Party Group on Cancer for dedicating their time and energy to cancer issues in Ireland. We look forward to working with all members of the Group on behalf of cancer patients in Ireland.”

The group of TDs and Senators, with representatives from across the political spectrum, is expected to meet four times per year and will be given up-to-date research and information to consider the health, social and practical issues facing people affected by cancer in Ireland. Fianna Fáil Senator, Catherine Ardagh will Chair the Group.

Senator Catherine Ardagh said: “Cancer touches all of our lives in some way. I’m delighted to chair this new Oireachtas Cross-Party Group on Cancer, and to bring together TDs and Senators from across the political spectrum to debate key issues, hear from cancer patients, learn from research, and campaign together to improve cancer services. Now more than ever, policy action is needed to steer cancer services in the right direction and to champion the priorities of cancer patients and survivors.” 

Professor Seamus O’Reilly of Cork University Hospital, Professor Solange Peters of the European Society of Medical Oncology, and Ms. Maria Fleming, Irish Cancer Society Advocacy Champion and breast cancer patient will join the group for today’s inaugural meeting to give evidence on the impact of Covid-19 on cancer care.