A brave woman who spoke truth in the face of injustice

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Paul Morrissey helps carry his wife Ruth's coffin from Monaleen church on Wednesday. Picture Brendan Gleeson

RUTH Morrissey was remembered at her funeral Mass on Wednesday, as a brave, powerful woman who spoke the truth in the face of injustice to save the lives of others.

The 39-year old mother of one died two years after she gave evidence in the High Court against the HSE and two laboratories over the misreading of her cervical smear tests in 2009 and 2012.

A review of the tests carried out in 2014, under the CervicalCheck screening programme, showed the smear results had been incorrectly reported. However, Ms Morrissey was not informed of this until 2018.

Members of the 221+ Patient Support Group, including fellow campaigner Vicky Phelan and Lorraine Walsh, wore armbands and provided a socially-distanced guard of honour as mourners applauded Ms Morrissey‘s wicker coffin as it was shouldered into Mary Magdalene Church, Monaleen by her husband Paul and other five other family members.

The Morrissey won their case and were awarded damages against the HSE and the labs. Although the verdict was appealed by the defendants, it was upheld by the Supreme Court last week.

Speaking at his wife’s funeral Mass, Mr Morrissey thanked their solicitor Cian O’Carroll, their legal team, his wife’s doctors and nurses, and staff at Milford Hospice for their care, support and guidance.

He said that he and his wife first met when they were teenagers, became best friends and carried on as a team, devoted to one another and their beloved daughter Libby (9).

“We did everything together, it was no secret in our relationship who was the boss. I was quite simply happy with the arrangement, it suited me, I knew she was always right,” Mr Morrissey said.

“Not only was Ruth stunningly beautiful, with a smile that would light up any room, she was so caring and loving. She was wise beyond her years, so intelligent, but she was also great fun, and people were drawn to her, I don’t know how I got so lucky when she agreed to become my wife,” he added.

“In 2011, we became a team of three when our amazing daughter Libby was born. Ruth was a natural mother, she adored Libby and Libby made Ruth so proud and happy. Everything we did was as a family, and spending time together was the most important thing to Ruth.”

“Libby has inherited so many of Ruth’s qualities, they have a special bond. Libby made a card for her mam on Saturday and she signed it ‘Mini Ruth’, that says it all.”

Mr Morrissey said he was in awe of how brave his wife was in her final years, in which she battled cancer, fought for justice, and campaigned for others left devastated by the CervicalCheck scandal.

“I always knew Ruth was a strong person, but the resilience and bravery she showed every day, whether having treatment, going through the court case, or dealing with the pain, never ceased to amaze me.”

Choking back tears, Mr Morrissey concluded to a standing ovation: “Libby and I are truly heartbroken and devastated and I don’t think we’ll ever recover from losing Ruth.”

Chief Celebrant, Fr Noel Kirwan said Ms Morrissey spoke to women, asking them to ‘come forward; go for that smear test; listen to what your doctors are telling you; be led by them so that you might have life’.

“This was her struggle, and this was her strength, and this was her love and her kindness. She lived her truth, and the truth she spoke challenged all around her, not to put down, but to lift up; to do better; to want more; to give more for the sake of others; for others lives to be better, and that’s an amazing beautiful truth that she had within her”.

“May she Rest In Peace now; her journey over; her battle ended.”