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'She gave generously to anyone who knew her': Family of Ruth Morrissey pay tribute after CervicalCheck campaigner dies aged 39

“Neither the HSE nor the State has ever apologised to her, and now it is too late,” a family statement said.

Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Updated Jul 19th 2020, 3:50 PM

THE FAMILY OF Ruth Morrissey have paid tribute to the CervicalCheck campaigner who has died at the age of 39.

The Limerick woman won a case against the HSE and two laboratories that examined her cervical smear tests.

She was first diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014. After recovering initially, her cancer returned in 2018 and became terminal.

The results of an audit from the labs responsible for testing the slides revealed there were a number of incorrect test results, including Morrissey’s tests, and those of more than 200 other women. 

The HSE was ordered to award damages to her for not notifying her of the results of audits of her 2009 and 2014 smear tests – which is the crux of the CervicalCheck controversy affecting over 221 other women. 

Last year, the High Court awarded Ruth and her husband Paul €2.1 million in damages. This week, the Supreme Court heard that she had been paid the sum in full. 

Speaking last year, Ruth said the case was “tough” to go through but that she was relieved at the outcome. At the time, she also revealed that she had been given two years to live.

“Two years is what’s being given but I don’t accept that because I’m a very positive person, so I’ll strive to try to find something out there that will help,” she said.

Ms Morrissey passed away this morning at Milford Hospice with her husband Paul by her side, a family statement said. 

“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 continued: “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.”

Paying tribute this afternoon, CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan said: “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. My thoughts today are with Ruth’s husband, Paul and their beautiful daughter, Libby who Ruth adored,” said Phelan. 

Commenting on her passing, Labour leader Alan Kelly offered his condolences to Ruth’s family and friends.

“Ruth and her family have shown so much bravery in the eyes of adversary since her cancer diagnosis,” he said.

“It is never easy to go up against the State to challenge an injustice but Ruth did just that.”

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He added that her fight for justice provided inspiration for people across the island of Ireland.

In a statement, President Michael D. Higgins said: “So many people across Ireland will have learned with great sadness of the passing of Ruth Morrissey. 

“Ruth Morrissey’s tremendous courage in an arduous campaign for truth and justice leaves a legacy of courage for all Irish people, and for those campaigning for women’s right to healthcare in particular. 

“Sabina and I send our sincere condolences to her husband Paul, their daughter, her family and friends, and to all those who have shared Mrs Morrissey’s journey.”

The Morrissey and Moloney families this afternoon thanked those who had helped to support Ms Morrissey over the “past few difficult years”. 

“Ruth’s life was a very happy one and none of the hardships of recent years robbed her of her good cheer and positive spirit. She fought fiercely to stay alive for the family she adored.

“The example she set stands as an enduring inspiration of strength and determination that should help many others through difficult times in the future.”

With reporting by Cónal Thomas 

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