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Ruth loses brave fight against cancer - with no apology from state

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Ruth Morrissey, who has died at 39

Ruth Morrissey, who has died at 39

Ruth Morrissey, who has died at 39

Neither the HSE nor the State has ever apologised to Ruth Morrissey who battled cervical cancer "and now it is too late", her husband Paul said yesterday.

The 39-year-old Limerick mother died yesterday morning with her husband by her side, under the care of the staff at Milford Hospice.

In a statement released through solicitor Cian O'Carroll, Mr Morrissey said his wife had "fought fiercely to stay alive for the family she adored".

"Ruth had a sparkle to her smile, her wit and her intelligence. That sparkle made her wonderful company and her friendship was a gift she gave generously to anyone who knew her."

The statement made reference to the legal process Ms Morrissey faced when she sued the HSE and two laboratories over the misreading of her cervical smear tests.

"It was 2014 when Ruth found out she had cervical cancer and 2018 before she learned that there had been grievous mistakes in the screening programme that were to cost her her life."

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court was told Ms Morrissey and her husband had been paid the full amount of €2.16m damages awarded to them by the High Court over misreading of her cervical smear tests.

The High Court previously heard Ms Morrissey was not told until 2018 a review carried out in 2014 showed smears taken under the CervicalCheck screening programme in 2009 and 2012 had been incorrectly reported. Her cancer returned in 2018.

"Despite the magnitude of the harm caused to her by avoidable errors, despite the broken promise of a Taoiseach who said no other woman would have to go to trial, 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," said the statement.

Courage

In June 2018, then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he should have been "more clear" when he made a promise no other woman impacted by the CervicalCheck scandal would have to go to court.

He said the government wanted all cases to be settled by mediation so women could avoid a trial. He said, however, that any woman has a Constitutional right to go through with a court case.

Leading tributes yesterday, President Michael D Higgins said "Ruth Morrissey's tremendous courage in an arduous campaign for truth and justice leaves a legacy of courage for all Irish people, and for those campaigning for women's right to healthcare in particular".

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Micheal Martin said: "Ruth was a brave, courageous woman who worked tirelessly for others and for future generations of women in this country."

Labour leader Alan Kelly added: "It's never easy to go up against the State to challenge an injustice, but Ruth did just that."

Fellow CervicalCheck campaigners also told of their sadness at the death of Ms Morrissey.

Vicky Phelan, said: "Ruth was one of the strongest women I know, and also one of the most positive. I never once saw her without a smile on her face and I saw her when she was very ill."

Stephen Teap, whose wife Irene died of cervical cancer in 2018, described Ruth as "a kind and gentle soul who I was honoured to know, always checking up on me and my boys even in the middle of her own battles, this world is at a loss without her."

A spokesperson for Leo Varadkar said: "The Tanaiste extends his sympathy to the family and friends of Ruth Morrissey on her passing.

"As Taoiseach, he gave a formal State apology to all women and their families affected by the cervical check crisis in 2019."