Emma Mhic Mhathúna: CervicalCheck case shows the power of standing up for yourself

“Check, check and recheck.” That was the message from Emma Mhic Mhathúna for those dealing with the cervical smear tests of Irish women.

The mother of five who is dying of cervical cancer said it sounded a bit like a song but it would make sense to “check, check and re-check the smear test rather than hand out the big cheque,” she said after settling her legal action.

The 37-year-old who with €7.5m has got the largest payout so far of any woman who has sued over CervicalCheck smear tests said the case demonstrated the power of standing up for yourself.

Her children who range from two years of age to 16 years she said had supported her all the way and she took on the legal battle for them.

She told Mr Justice Kevin Cross in the courtroom she is now glad it is over with so she can enjoy time with her children.

Her solicitor Cian O’Carroll — who also represented Limerick woman Vicky Phelan who settled her case over alleged delays in relation to CervicalCheck smears for €2.5m — said each case turns on its own specific facts so we cannot draw broad
conclusions from the Mhic Mhathúna case.

He said it is important where cases are urgent they are dealt with in this urgent way.

“It is wonderful we have the opportunity to come to the court and to get access and such priority. It is a very compassionate forum. It allows people to put the case behind them and focus on their care and their families,” he added.

The latest settlement came about after mediation talks which started last Sunday. In a statement, the State Claims Agency said it had fully engaged with the Laboratory and its legal teams in this case “working cooperatively to facilitate the earliest resolution and to avoid the case proceeding to trial”.

Proceedings, it said, were served in the case on May 23 this year.

It said it did not commission liability, condition and prognosis or quantum reports as it would typically be required to do in medical negligence cases. It had requested the reports directly from Ms Mhic Mhathúna’s solicitors so as to facilitate a resolution at the earliest possible time and to remove the more adversarial elements of the system, it said in the statement.

Mediation was offered on June 1, with settlement reached on Thursday.


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