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'We stand with Philomena': Rally calls on Harris and HSE to settle case of terminally-ill midwife

Philomena Canning, who is suffering from terminal ovarian cancer, is seeking damages from the HSE.

IMG_8395 Supporters of Philomena Canning outside the Dáil this afternoon Source: Hayley Halpin/TheJournal.ie

A GROUP OF campaigners have called on Minister Simon Harris and the HSE to settle a High Court case with independent midwife Philomena Canning after she highlighted her case in a recent Irish Examiner article

Canning, who is suffering from terminal ovarian cancer, is seeking damages from the HSE, who withdrew her indemnity insurance to practice as a midwife.

In 2015, her indemnity was restored by the HSE.

It is understood she has not returned to work as a midwife since. 

In her interview with the Examiner, Canning noted that she believes her only hope in fighting her cancer is access to the immunotherapy drug Pembro. 

She said she feels she has no choice but to get her case settled so she can access money for the drug.

“I don’t know how long I have but I want it settled now. I fear it could be weeks but I don’t have weeks. I want my lawyers to get their fees and whatever money I can get out of it to fund my own treatment,” Canning said. 

Dáil rally

Today, supporters of Canning gathered at the Dáil to call upon Minister for Health Simon Harris to instruct the HSE to settle her case. 

Speaking to the dozens of people who gathered outside Leinster House this afternoon, former client Ciara Considine called on Harris and the HSE to listen to her message. 

“The world is watching and we are here to tell you that we stand with Philomena in her pursuit of justice. We are not going away,” Considine said. 

We’re also here to salute you, Philomena, to honour you, to stand by you.

“We are here to say we are sorry that time has run out for your court hearing and that you were forced to go public on such a deeply private matter as your health in order to compel the HSE to settle your case,” she said. 

“Today, Philomena, we celebrate and honour you while we say to the Minister and the HSE we do not stand for this treatment of human beings. We ask the Minister to compel the HSE to do the right thing immediately and bring Philomena’s settlement to the close that she has asked for and she so deserves.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was asked about the issue in the Dáil today. He said as far as he knows Canning had been offered a settlement.

A spokesperson for the HSE told TheJournal.ie the organisation is “actively engaging in an effort to bring this matter to a conclusion”, adding: “At this time, we are unfortunately not able to comment further in relation to live proceedings.”

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