• Clodagh Meaney

Vicky Phelan pays tribute to CervicalCheck campaigner Ruth Morrissey following her death

The 39-year-old died after a battle with terminal cancer


Vicky Phelan has paid tribute to CervicalCheck campaigner Ruth Morrissey, following her death yesterday morning.

The 39-year-old mother of one died at a hospice in Limerick following a battle with cervical cancer.

Having first being diagnosed with cancer in 2014, it was not until four years later in 2018 that she learned that the in the same year an audit of smears taken in 2009 and 2012 under the CervicalCheck screening programme had been incorrectly reported.

Her cancer returned in 2018, and was deemed terminal.

Ruth was one of over 200 women that developed cervical cancer after being given inaccurate smear test results, and became a household name after taking her case to the high court where she was awarded over €2.1 million in damages.

Earlier this year in March, the HSE and the two laboratories involved in Ruth's case took the High Court ruling to the Supreme court "to get legal clarity."

The court found the High Court's ruling to be correct, also ruling that the HSE had a duty of care to those using the CervicalCheck programme.

Fellow campaigner Vicky Phelan became a catalyst for the publication of the controversy following her own legal battle in following incorrect test results.

In 2011 she underwent a smear test which showed no abnormalities. By 2014 she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and it was not until 2017 that she learned of the initial incorrect result.

Taking to Twitter, Vicky said she never say Ruth without a smile.

"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."

In subsequent Tweets, Vicky paid tribute to Ruth's family.

"My thoughts today are with Ruth's husband, Paul and their beautiful daughter, Libby who Ruth adored," she said.

"My children are away for a few days at my parents. I am so glad they are not here."

"I don't have to try to put on a brave face and can just sit here with my feelings and grieve for Ruth and for the life that she didn't get to live, for the time she didn't get to spend with Libby."

Ruth's family released a statement following her death which admired her life accomplishments.

“Though just 39 years old, Ruth achieved so much in her life and chief among those accomplishments is the love she and Paul shared and the wonderful daughter they brought into this world and raised with love,” the statement said.

“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 also condemned ex-Taoiseach Leo Vardakar for forcing Ruth to continue her fight against the HSE during the final months of her life.

'“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.”

Read more: CervicalCheck: Everything you need to know about your free cervical screening if you're turning 25

Chief Clinical Officer says CervicalCheck delays will continue into 2021

© 2020 by EMPWR

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