Watch: 'I can’t save my life but at least I can save yours and your children’s' - Hundreds attend CervicalCheck protest
Cervical cancer victim, Emma Mhic Mhathúna, promised that her death would not be in vain as hundreds gathered at a silent vigil to show solidarity with her and all the victims of the cervical cancer scandal in Tralee on Monday evening.
In a moving speech to the crowd, Emma, who has been given a terminal diagnosis, said that the vigil was about fighting back against the Government and ensuring that they answer for what they have done to the women of Ireland.
“I am sick of being treated like nothing. Our health is the last thing that these people care about. The Dail need to realise that they if they going to take responsibility for our lives they better do it well or they need to be fired,” she told the crowd.
Up to 400 people from across the county and further afield gathered at the silent vigil organised by SF Councillor, Toireasa Ferris, to show the victims of the scandal ‘solidarity’ and ‘support’.
Emma said that she was ‘touched’ that people had organised the vigil.
“It is unfortunate that some-one has to die to bring people together. It is amazing that they trust me to be their voice and bring forward reform. We (women) kick ass when we are together.”
“This is incredible. This is what being Irish is all about,” she said at the gathering.
“I can’t save my life but at least I can save yours and your children’s lives”
Amid tears she told the crowd that her death would not be in vain.
“I promise my death won’t go unnoticed. I will make sure that they pay for what they have done to every single family in Ireland, whether you are on a waiting list too long or whether you are not being treated fair. Tell them you’re my friend and I’ll come and sort them out. ”
The mother of five, who lives in Baile na nGall in West Kerry, spoke to the gathering, just hours after she had been told that the cancer has spread to her vertebra. Last week she was informed that it had spread to her chest.
She said that while she had no idea how much longer she has left she will fight for as long as she can.
“I hope to leave this country safe for my children. I want to reform the health service.”
Emma is due to meet President, Michael D Higgins, on Wednesday, in private meeting to discuss the cervical cancer scandal.
“I am so touched that he is coming to meet me to see what I am trying to achieve.”
Men and women also lined the street outside the GPO in Dublin this evening calling for transparency within the Government and to express their concerns surrounding the CervicalCheck programme.
Therese King from Co Dublin attended the protest with her daughter Maisi Bollard to support the woman affected.
"I want to support the women who are dying or have died and to let our children know what the Government has done. I'm fuming about the whole thing, I'm disgusted. I can't imagine what the women are going through."
Therese said it's important to have the conversation with her daughter Maisi
"Some people say they're too young but they need to know in simple terms what is facing them in later life. It's all over the news. I told my children what happened and how appalling it is."
Shauna Brazil from Clondalkin also attended the event with her daughters Molly and Tessa Hoque.
"We can't stay at home and say 'that's terrible'. It's one of the worst things that has been revealed. It's unbelieveable. We are the women of Ireland. We pay taxes, we get smear tests, we mind ourselves so we can be healthy for our girls.
"I don't think it's possible to be a mother and not feel for these women and their children and husbands that are left behind."
Molly Hoque (16) said that conversation around cervical cancer is being held at schools.
"It's spoken more in schools than anywhere. We first see it on social media and then we have discussions about it. This isn't being talking about as much as the referendum though. Things that affect boys and girls are discussed more than things that effect just girls."
Pamela Creen from Leixlip, Co Kildare attended the protest with her mum Deidre Byrne and niece Saoirse Johnson (16).
"I'm disgusted what happened with cervical check. I have three daughters so I have to think of them and the future. They need to have faith in CervicalCheck," Pamela told Independent.ie.
"We're all worried. I think it's a good service but I'm waiting on a letter. I'm waiting everyday for the post to see if a letter is going to come for me. We don't know how many women have been affected and what is the truth."
Saoirse Johnson added that she is concerned for her future in Ireland.
"I came out to support the women of Ireland because I'm disgusted the way the HSE has let us all down. It could be any of our mams. I'm worried for my own future in Ireland. With the upcoming referendum too and now this. I don't know what else is going to happen. I'm afraid to put my trust in the Government."
Geraldine Robinson from Dublin said she is "absolutely appalled" and "ashamed" by the Government.
"They are willing to murder us and allow us to die a painful death. I could die. I have to be re-tested next week... I'm absolutely disgusted. I think the Government needs to go."