I was deeply saddened to learn of Ruth Morrissey’s passing on Sunday.
I know that her husband Paul, her daughter Libby, and all of her family and friends are devastated
No words of mine will give them any consolation at this heart-breaking time.
Ruth was a young, brave, courageous woman who worked tirelessly for others and for future generations of women in this country.
Over the last two days every one of us were touched by the many accounts of her ability to help people in a very good-humoured, kind and touching way.
She fought a long hard battle with her illness and also fought very hard for her own rights to be vindicated in court.
Ruth, along with many other brave women, brought together by their diagnosis with this terrible illness, worked together to highlight diagnostic errors in the country’s CervicalCheck Programme, so that others would not have to go through what they went through.
On behalf of the State, I would like again to sincerely apologise to Ruth, to Ruth’s family, to all the other women and their families for the litany of failures in relation to the operation of cervical screening in Ireland for many years.
This government, like the previous government, acknowledges the failures that took place with CervicalCheck and we are profoundly sorry for what was allowed happen.
Too many women, who should be here and enjoying life with their families, are gone because of failings.
Those of us who are here and have the responsibility of elected office have a solemn duty to learn the lessons of how these errors were made, to reform the system and to make sure they never happen again.
This government will fully implement the recommendations of the Scally and MacCraith reports. We will do so to honour the memory of those who were failed by the programme in the past and to ensure that CervicalCheck is improved and can save more lives.
Last July the Oireachtas passed legislation to set up the CervicalCheck tribunal. This is a statutory tribunal that will deal with the issue of liability in a non-adversarial way. The tribunal was due to start in March but was delayed due to Covid-19.
My colleague Minister Donnelly is now in the process of appointing a Judge and two other independent members so that the tribunal can be set up in such a way that allows work to start, while still respecting Covid restrictions.
Ruth gave voice to the women who suffered in silence.
It is important that her legacy is remembered by allowing the women affected by the CervicalCheck scandal to have access to the supports they need and the compensation they deserve in a non-adversarial way.
This government and all in Dáil Eireann want better screening services for all women.
The 221 Group are still united in their determination to improve CervicalCheck, to make sure that women are diagnosed early so that they can have the best chance in their fight against cervical cancer.
Ruth was generous of spirit and was deeply motivated by the interests of others. She will always be remembered for putting others before herself and for working endlessly for future generations of women.
I wish again to extend my sincere sympathies to her husband Paul, her daughter Libby, her family and friends.
May she rest in peace.