Sunday 19 August 2018

Emma Mhic Mhathuna and her children sue over CervicalCheck smears, as HSE still to decide stand on liability

Ordeal: Cancer sufferer Emma Mhic Mhathúna. Photo: Don MacMonagle
Ordeal: Cancer sufferer Emma Mhic Mhathúna. Photo: Don MacMonagle

Tim Healy

EMMA Mhic Mhathuna and her five children have launched a legal action against the HSE over alleged delays relating to CervicalCheck smears.

The mother, who is dying from cervical cancer, and her children - who range in age from two to 16 years - are suing the HSE and laboratories.

Her Senior Counsel told the High Court today that Ms Mhic Mhathuna wants the case  settled as soon a possible,.

Patrick Treacy SC asked the HSE to make a decision on its stand on liability in the case within the next 24 hours and said his client does not have time as she is serious ill.

"She has been told by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Minister for Health that everything will be done and nobody will be forced to got to court and there will be mediation.

"She wants it settled as quickly as possible," Mr Treacy told the High Court.

Counsel for the HSE, Patrick Hanratty SC, said it was the first they had heard of being asked to decide on liability within 24 hours.

He said the HSE realistically could not make a decision on full liability in 24 hours.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross said he did not think you could force a party into that position and said it was not fair. He said the court was not the place to make political statements.

Mr Treacy told the court in was a unique case and it involved the mother and her five children. Tragically he said Ms Mhic Mhathúna is seriously ill and and he asked that the case be heard in the next few weeks.

He handed in a letter from the woman's GP and said the court would see how seriously ill she is.

However he said a number of issues had emerged  in the case including in relating to another cervical smear of 2010.

He said the case centred on a cervical smear of 2013 but new documents suggested for the first time that there was a 2010 smear as well which would have required Ms Mhic Mhathuna to have a procedure. Counsel said that information was not in documents provided by Cervical Check.

Mr Justice Cross adjourning the case until tomorrow for case management said everything will be done at the courts end to facilitate Ms Mhic Mhathuna's case.

Terminally ill mother-of-five Emma Mhic Mhathúna has been caught up in the CervicalCheck scandal. Photo: Don MacMonagle
Terminally ill mother-of-five Emma Mhic Mhathúna has been caught up in the CervicalCheck scandal. Photo: Don MacMonagle

The High Court also heard there was no outstanding issues between the sides in relation to two other legal actions involving women suing over alleged delays relating to CervicalCheck smears.

The cases were the first to be listed in the High Court since the CervicalCheck smear controversy arose last month, when Limerick woman Vicky Phelan settled her action for €2.5million.

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