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Mother on protest walk from Cork to Dublin for second time to get her child medicinal cannabis

Vera Twomey is entering day two of the 260km protest walk.

Vera Twomey on her walk with TD Gino Kenny.
Vera Twomey on her walk with TD Gino Kenny.
Image: Gino Kenny

A DETERMINED MOTHER is walking from Cork to Dublin for a second time in a bid to get Health Minister Simon Harris to allow her daughter access medicinal cannabis.

Vera Twomey yesterday began the 260km walk from her home to the Dáil as a protest against decisions to restrict her daughter Ava, who has rare form of epilepsy called Dravet’s syndrome, from accessing the drug.

Vera has been in a number of meetings with Harris and has tried to get the Minister to allow Ava access cannabis-based medicine on compassionate grounds. Ava, who would have suffered dozens of seizures on a daily basis, has had access to CBD oil costing around €300 a month.

CBD is a cannabidiol and is legal in Ireland because it does not contain any THC, the psychoactive part of the cannabis plant.

Last week, Twomey released a harrowing video of Ava suffering a seizure to TV3 and, today, spoke to Ray D’Arcy on RTÉ radio following her meeting with Harris, where advocates Gino Kenny TD and Anne Rabbitte TD were also in attendance.

Twomey added that, despite the high profile that Ava’s case has garnered in recent months, nothing had really been done to change the situation she was in.

When Twomey and her husband, Paul, released the video to TV3, they said they had reached their “last straw” and felt like they badly needed something to be done.

She said Harris had acknowledged he’d watched it in their meeting today, saying it was “difficult to watch”.

The Department of Health issued a statement after Harris’ meeting with Twomey, today, where he reaffirmed what he said when the HPRA report was released two weeks ago, namely that a pilot access programme for cannabis-based treatments would be rolled out for patients with specific conditions, including severe epilepsy.

The statement adds that, “until such time as the necessary legislative amendments has been made to facilitate the implementation of the Cannabis Access Programme, it remains open to the Minister to consider granting a licence to an Irish registered doctor for access to medicinal cannabis for named patients”.

Twomey said that she had been told in the meeting that they needed a consultant neurologist, not just an “Irish registered doctor” to apply for this licence and that, without that, they had no other option.

Read: Mother releases harrowing video of daughter suffering seizures in bid to access medication

Read: Health authority recommends medicinal cannabis to be made available for “specified conditions”

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