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Ruth Morrissey is not just a statistic. She was first and foremost a loving mother, wife, daughter and sister. Our first thought today is for her husband Paul, Ruth’s daughter Libby and their extended family.

Ruth was one of the original 221 women directly impacted by the historical shortcomings of CervicalCheck.  Her passing brings a deep sadness for many of us with whom she had forged friendships as we endured the realities of similar diagnosis. She shared her experiences of having to battle her disease, its symptoms and the battle within the courts.

She also shared with us her hope of spending more time with Paul and Libby. More recently she shared her thoughts on dealing with social distancing and fears about the Corona virus.

We remember here for her courage and, above all else, we remember her for being an ear of support and for the many kind words.

Like all of these women, Ruth never set out to be in the public eye but when the need came, with Paul by her side, she refused to be pushed aside. She fought not only for justice but for the demand to be heard. Ruth and Paul were dignified and resolute throughout, standing firm through a long and arduous High Court trial, not flinching in the face of the ill-considered Supreme Court challenge by the State to the outcome of that trial and all the time, daily, enduring the hell of an illness that has now overcome even her great spirit.

Ruth Morrissey refused to be a victim despite her deeply-felt disappointment in the actions of those charged with the health and wellbeing of the women of Ireland.  Her determination to persist brought the judgement that defined ‘absolute confidence’ as the benchmark measure for screening in Ireland. It also affirmed the responsibilities of the State and the HSE  for the failings of CervicalCheck. This sets the bar not just for others who have found themselves in a similar situation but for all women seeking these services in the future. It is a monumental legacy.

On the day of her High Court judgment (in May last year) Ruth made a point of saying also that she hoped it would mean others like her wouldn’t have to go through a court process to secure the means to get the best out of what was left of their lives.  Regrettably, over a year later, we are still waiting for the establishment of the CervicalCheck Tribunal that would make that possible.

Now is a time for reflection. Ruth Morrissey only ever asked that the women of Ireland be treated with the dignity and respect that should accrue in a nation that serves to cherish all equally. She was not treated like that. Despite the judgements of the Courts, we know now that no-one ever said sorry or acknowledged that this should not have happened – a simple human gesture, the absence of which has added to the hurt of her loss for her family.

We call upon our government and in particular the Minister for Health, Mr. Stephen Donnelly T.D., to likewise reflect upon the abhorrent shortcomings of their continued lack of urgency in offering a pathway to justice and fairness.

The women, families and patient organisations associated with 221+ wish to assure Paul and Libby that like them we will not forget Ruth nor the cause, that although unsought by her, she carried when most would have faltered on the first step.


For reference:

Padraig McKeon – / 087 2312632