The solicitor for cancer victim Ruth Morrissey has criticised the head of the HSE over comments he made about a letter of apology on the day of her funeral.
Hours before Ms Morrissey was laid to rest on Wednesday, HSE chief executive Paul Reid said he had written to her husband Paul, through their solicitor, to "express my deepest sympathies and apologies for what has happened to Ruth".
Mr Reid made the comments at a Covid-19 press briefing.
However, the Herald has learned the letter was only posted that morning and solicitor Cian O'Carroll, who represented the couple in their legal action against the HSE and two screening laboratories, said yesterday he had yet to receive it.
Mr O'Carroll was also critical of Mr Reid for discussing the letter on the day of the funeral.
"It beggars belief that he would take the occasion of Ruth's funeral to raise this matter at a well-attended press conference," the solicitor said.
"He should have communicated whatever his desired expressions of sympathy or apology to Mr Morrissey privately and then, if he saw fit but ideally with the permission of Mr Morrissey, communicated what he had done to the public."
A HSE spokesman said the letter was sent before the press conference. The spokesman declined to comment on the criticism levelled at Mr Reid, but the row has once again put the spotlight back on the State's response to fallout from the CervicalCheck scandal.
Ms Morrissey and her husband Paul were awarded €2.1m by the High Court last year over the misreading of her smears.
After Ms Morrissey (39) died at Milford Hospice in Co Limerick on Sunday, her husband issued a statement saying that "despite using Ruth as a test case through the final years and months of her life, neither the HSE nor the State has ever apologised to her, and now it is too late".
Ms Morrissey and her husband endured a lengthy High Court battle to secure damages, only to see aspects of the case appealed to the Supreme Court by the HSE and laboratories Quest Diagnostics and Medlab.
The High Court heard Ms Morrissey was not told until 2018 that a review in 2014 showed smears taken under the CervicalCheck screening programme in 2009 and 2012 had been incorrectly reported. Her cancer returned in 2018.
The litigation was only concluded yesterday.