Thursday 17 October 2019

Ruth Morrissey feels 'powerless' as €2.1m cancer award appealed

Failing health: Ruth Morrissey has spent several weeks in hospice. Photo: Collins Courts
Failing health: Ruth Morrissey has spent several weeks in hospice. Photo: Collins Courts

Laura Lynott and Eilish O'Regan

Health Minister Simon Harris was warned last week that terminally ill Ruth Morrissey was "frightened" for the future of her family and she was appealing to him to ensure her High Court award of €2.1m was secure.

But she was left "feeling powerless" yesterday after only learning through the media that the State will lodge a Supreme Court appeal to controversial parts of the judge's ruling in her case.

She was distressed after receiving no prior notification of the decision of the State Claims Agency despite suffering a serious health setback in recent weeks.

In a strongly-worded statement yesterday her solicitor Cian O'Carroll said she had "enough public assurances" from Mr Harris that he is concerned for her.

Ms Morrissey (37), a Limerick mother of one who has advanced cervical cancer after getting wrong smear tests, suffered a serious deterioration in her health after her marathon court hearing six weeks ago and recently spent five weeks in Milford hospice, Limerick.

Correspondence seen by the Irish Independent, which was sent to the minister on Friday by Mr O'Carroll, told him: "Her cancer has spread and her health is failing. She is frightened for the future of her family and she wants and deserves to know that adequate provision has been made for them before she dies."

Mr O'Carroll asked the minister to honour his previous statement that her court award would be paid, or "explain to her personally, why you would make such a political statement publicly and then renege on it".

Following news reports yesterday that the State will appeal parts of the judgment of Mr Justice Kevin Cross, Ms Morrissey - who has a little daughter, Libby - was said to be very upset.

Mr O'Carroll, speaking on behalf of her and her husband Paul, said: "It is clear that it is business as usual in minister Harris's department where politics comes ahead of common decency."

He said: "Ruth Morrissey is powerless in all this. Six weeks from the judgment that so clearly described how she and her family have been failed by both labs and State, she is now no closer to a resolution of her case or knowing what provision is to be made for her family's future.

"She now faces the prospect of at least several more months delay while the State seeks to make arguments in the Supreme Court it chose to ignore in the High Court."

Mr O'Carroll added she had had enough public assurances from Mr Harris that he has concern for her to "last what time is left to her".

The State is to seek clarity on key elements of the judgment, including the ruling that labs should exercise "absolute confidence "and not deem a cervical screening test clear on the basis of probabilities.

Mr Harris reiterated yesterday he will seek to ensure that Ms Morrissey's court award is secure. But he added it was "always inevitable" the original ruling would be appealed and the two labs which were sued, Quest and Medlab, had already signalled they will appeal.

Irish Independent

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