Irish cervical cancer campaigner dies aged 39

Paul and Ruth MorrisseyImage copyright

Image caption

Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul, of Monaleen, County Limerick

The Irish cervical cancer campaigner Ruth Morrissey, who was awarded €2.1m (£1.8m) in damages over the alleged misreading of smear tests, has died aged 39.

Mrs Morrissey had claimed that if tests in 2009 and 2012 had been correctly interpreted and reported, she could have avoided developing cancer.

She sued the Health Service Executive (HSE) and two laboratories in 2018.

In a statement, her husband Paul said she never received an apology.

He added that it was now “too late” for either the HSE or the state to say sorry.

Mrs Morrissey died at Milford Hospice in County Limerick on Sunday morning.

During her legal action, the High Court heard that Mrs Morrissey was not told until 2018 that a review four years earlier had showed the tests carried out under the CervicalCheck screening programme had been reported incorrectly.

The HSE admitted it owed a duty of care to Mrs Morrissey, while the laboratories denied all the claims.

In February 2018, she was diagnosed with a recurrence of her cancer and given a prognosis of 12 to 24 months.


Giving evidence in court in July 2018, Ms Morrissey said she had to have the “most difficult conversation” she ever had to with her then 7-year-old daughter.

She told the court she did not want to die.

It was the first case of its kind to be heard in full in the Republic of Ireland and considered in a High Court judgement.

In July 2020, the Irish Supreme Court heard the family had received the full amount of money awarded to them.

Paul Morrissey said his wife showed “courage and determination” during the trial and is an “enduring inspiration of strength and determination that should help many others through difficult times in the future”.

BBC News