Wednesday 21 August 2019

Harris vows Morrissey will be paid full €2.1m

Ruth Morrissey. Pic: Collins Courts
Ruth Morrissey. Pic: Collins Courts

Eilish O'Regan and Kevin Doyle

Terminally ill Limerick woman Ruth Morrissey has received written assurance her award of €2.1m will be paid regardless of the outcome of a Supreme Court appeal to aspects of the judge's ruling in her High Court case.

Ms Morrissey (37), who was distressed after only finding out the HSE had decided to proceed with the appeal to her case after a report appeared in a Sunday newspaper, will be paid her award regardless of its result.

The lengthy appeal will centre on aspects of the High Court ruling by Judge Kevin Cross and follows "widespread debate and anxiety" by the medical community.

The commitment regarding the award was given yesterday in correspondence on behalf of Health Minister Simon Harris to her solicitor Cian O'Carroll.

Mr O'Carroll wrote to Mr Harris last week saying she was frightened her award would be jeopardised.

Ms Morrissey, a mother of one who has advanced cervical cancer, successfully sued the labs Quest Diagnostics, Medlab and the HSE.

The bulk of the award is due from the labs, which are also going to the Supreme Court. But if they win their appeal, the full compensation will then be paid by the State.

It comes as the Cabinet yesterday gave the go-ahead to pay 221 women and their next of kin caught up in the CervicalCheck scandal an ex-gratia sum of €20,000.

This payment is for the non-disclosure of the results of an audit by CervicalCheck showing they received wrong smear test results.

All of the women developed cancer and some have since died.

The payment is separate to any compensation they will receive if they bring a legal claim alleging negligence in the reading of their tests.

An independent panel examined the payment the women should receive.

Around 90 cases have already been cleared and payment will be issued shortly.

The panel has sought disclosure of records for an additional group of women who have applied for the scheme.

The scheme remains open to women and next of kin who have not yet applied.

A separate tribunal is to be set up to allow women and next of kin to seek compensation for alleged negligence.

The tribunal will be held in private except where requested to be in public and the standard of proof will be that of the High Court.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar became embroiled in Ms Morrissey's case in the Dáil yesterday when he said a State counsel contacted her barrister on Thursday and Friday last, which was before the story appeared in the newspapers.

Mr Varadkar was referring to reports that Ms Morrissey was upset after only finding out the State would appeal after reading the Sunday newspaper report.

It is understood that a State counsel had phone contact with Ms Morrissey's barrister at the end of the week which involved some exploratory discussions about how her award could be separated from any challenge should a case be taken to the Supreme Court.

However, there was no definite communication that the State was going to the Supreme Court until around 4pm on Monday when her solicitors received correspondence from the State Claims Agency.

The High Court case happened six weeks ago and Ms Morrissey has spent most of that time since in a hospice, only returning home last week.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News