Emma and five children sue over test ‘delay’

Emma Mhic Mhathúna and her five children have launched a High Court action over alleged delays relating to CervicalCheck smears.

The mother, who is dying, has along with her five children ranging in age from two to 16 years, sued the HSE and laboratories.

Her senior counsel Patrick Treacy said Ms Mhic Mhathúna wants the case settled as soon a possible.

Patrick Hanratty, counsel for the HSE, however, also revealed a number of issues had emerged in the case, including a matter in relation 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 CervicalCheck.

Living in Kerry, the mother was present in court yesterday for the application.

Later, outside the court, Ms Mhic Mathúna stood with her solicitor Cian O’Carroll who said she would not be adding to what was already said in court.

Mr O’Carroll said it was a concern that further documents had emerged which revealed there had been an audit of 2010 smears as well as audits of smears in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

During the hearing, Mr Treacy asked the HSE to make a decision on its stand on liability in the case within the next 24 hours and said the mother, who is tragically and seriously ill, did not have time.

“She has been told by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Minister for Health (Simon Harris) that everything will be done and nobody will be forced to go to court and there will be mediation.”


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

Mr Hanratty said it was the first time the defence had heard of being asked to decide on liability in the next 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 a party in court could be forced into that position, indicating it was not fair.

The court, he also said, was not the place to make political statements.

Mr Treacy told the court it was a unique case and involved the mother and her five children.

Tragically, he said, Ms Mhic Mhathúna was seriously ill 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 was.

Mr Justice Cross, adjourning the case until this morning for case management, said everything will be done at the courts’ end to facilitate Ms Mhic Mhathúna’s case.

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 which have come before the High Court.

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 €2.5m.

Those cases and another action by a woman who has ovarian cancer relating to previous cancer checks are scheduled to be heard in the High Court in July.

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