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 Header Item Death of Ruth Morrissey: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)
 Header Item Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 995 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin] Ruth, along with many other brave women brought together by their diagnosis of this terrible illness, worked to highlight diagnostic failings in this country's CervicalCheck screening programme so that others would not have to go through what they went through.

On behalf of the State, I again sincerely apologise to Ruth, Ruth's family and all the other women and their families for the litany of failures regarding the operation of the cervical screening service that obtained in Ireland for many years. This Government, like the previous Government, acknowledges the failures that occurred with the CervicalCheck programme and we are profoundly sorry for what was allowed to happen. Too many women who should be here and enjoying life with their families are gone because of those 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 such errors never happen again. The Government will fully implement the recommendations of the Scally and McGrath 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. It was due to start its work in March but this was delayed due to Covid-19. My colleague, the Minister for Health, Deputy Donnelly, is now in the process of appointing a judge and two other independent members in order that the tribunal can be set up in such a way that allows work to start while 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. The Government - and, indeed, all Members - wants better screening services for all women. The 221 group is still united in its determination to improve CervicalCheck in order to ensure that women are diagnosed early so they can have the best chances 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. Again, I extend my sincere sympathies to her husband, Paul, her daughter, Libby, and her family and friends. May she rest in peace.

  Members rose.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Ar dheis Dé go raibh sí.

Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald The woman we have just respected, Ruth Morrissey, passed away on Sunday. As the Taoiseach is aware, Ruth was one of hundreds of women impacted upon by failures in the CervicalCheck screening system. She has paid the ultimate price for those failures and is now grieved by her family, including her heartbroken husband, Paul, her devastated little girl, Libby, and her wider family and circle of friends. There are no words I can offer that can adequately convey the magnitude of the loss felt by her death, but suffice to say, the State grievously failed Ruth Morrissey. Tá mo chroí briste ar son clann Ruth. Is tragóid é cás Ruth, agus nílim in ann glacadh leis go raibh uirthi dul chuig na cúirteanna.

Instead of holding up its hands and admitting liability, the State joined the US laboratories that were at fault in this case in dragging a terminally-ill woman through the courts and fought her tooth and nail every step of the way.

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