Emma's family welcome apology but say action is vital

Tadhg Evans

The late Emma Mhic Mhathúna's family has welcomed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's "profound and really good apology" to those who suffered as a result of the CervicalCheck scandal - but said that the screening system must be made "much better and safer" to protect women in the future.

The Taoiseach apologised in the Dáil last week for the failures of the screening programme, failures that affected hundreds of women.

Among these was Ms Mhic Mhathúna, who died just over a year ago, aged 37. Ms Mhic Mhathúna, a mother of five, was a resident of Baile na nGall in the months leading up to her death. She was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer in 2016 having received two incorrect smear results prior to her diagnosis.

A few months before her death, she secured a €7.5m settlement after suing the HSE and a US laboratory used by CervicalCheck.

A family spokesperson told The Kerryman that it has been a “surreal” experience losing Emma but welcomed the Taoiseach’s apology.

"It was a full response, and a profound and really good apology," the spokesperson said on behalf of the family.

"It has been a surreal experience losing Emma through no fault of our own. Five young children have been left without a mother, and they are our priority right now.

"We can't re-write history, but we wish and hope that screening will be made much better and safer.

"On the day of her burial, the procession stopped three times [outside Leinster House, Government Buildings, and the Department of Health] to highlight the need to look into the system. We now need to see action to protect women into the future."