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HSE CEO apologises to Ruth Morrissey as family say they are 'truly heartbroken' at funeral

Paul Reid said he has written to Paul Morrissey, Ruth’s husband, to offer an apology on behalf of the HSE.

Ruth Morrissey
Ruth Morrissey

Updated Jul 22nd 2020, 11:15 AM

HSE CEO PAUL Reid said he has written to Paul Morrissey, the husband of Ruth Morrissey, to offer an apology on behalf of the HSE.

Speaking at a press briefing in Dublin this morning, Reid said Ruth was an “incredibly courageous woman“.

The 39-year-old’s death was confirmed by her family on Sunday and her funeral is taking place in Limerick today.

She won a case against the HSE and two laboratories that examined her cervical smear tests. It led to more than 200 women eventually learning that they were affected by incorrect smear test results as part of the CervicalCheck controversy.

The Morrissey family and other women affected by the scandal, such as Vicky Phelan and Lorraine Walsh, have been critical of the fact Ruth had to spend much of the last two years of her life engaging in legal action.

Ruth’s funeral mass is taking place at 11am in Mary Magdalene Church, Monaleen, followed by private cremation.

Speaking at the mass, Ruth’s husband Paul paid tribute to her.

“I always knew Ruth was a strong person, but the resilience and bravery she showed every day, whether having treatment, going through the court case or dealing with the pain, never ceased to amaze me.

“She carried it all with great dignity and she still managed to keep a sense of humour and appreciate the simple and important things in life.

“Libby and I are truly heartbroken, I don’t think we’ll ever recover from losing Ruth,” he said.

Ruth 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 221 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. Last year, the High Court awarded Morrissey and her husband €2.1 million in damages.

‘A sparklet to her smile’ 

Ruth passed away on Sunday 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.

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“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.”

The 221+ patient advocacy group will form a socially-distanced guard of honour at the funeral “to honour and show our love, appreciation and respect to Ruth and her family”.

In a statement, the group said Ruth “is not just a statistic, she was first and foremost a loving mother, wife, daughter and sister”.

“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.”

Her death notice states that she was predeceased by her parents Sean and Mary and sister Niamh, and was the “beloved wife of Paul and adored mum of Libby” and is sadly missed by her family and friends.

In compliance with current guidelines, the funeral will be confined to family and close friends only. The mass can be viewed online here.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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