Plaque in park unveiled by Ruth’s loving family

Paul and Libby Morrissey, husband and daughter of Ruth Morrissey, on the park bench dedicated to her memory at Castletroy Playground. Photo: Brendan Gleeson

By David Raleigh

A plaque has been unveiled in memory of the late CervicalCheck cancer campaigner Ruth Morrissey, (39), who died two years ago.

Ms Morrissey and her husband, Paul, sued the HSE and two US laboratories, after it emerged she was not told until 2018 that a review carried out in 2014 showed smears taken under the CervicalCheck screening programme in 2009 and 2012 had been incorrectly reported.

Marking the second anniversary of her death in July 2020, Ms Morrissey’s husband and their daughter Libby, along with their wider family, came together for the unveiling of a plaque in her memory, on a bench at Castletroy Park, Co Limerick, a favourite place where they spent a lot of their family downtime together.

Mr and Mrs Morrissey were thrust into the spotlight after Ruth’s diagnosis in 2018, and they helped raise awareness about the CervicalCheck scandal through their High Court action against the HSE and US labs.

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Paying tribute to his wife, Mr Morrisey said: “She is an unbelievable human being, we don’t speak of her in past tense, because we will never loose the love we have for her, she was a powerful, independent, no-nonsense, beautiful person, inside and out, and I’ll never forget her as long as I live.”

“Everyday I dream about her, I think about her, she was magnificent, I love her, I always will.”

Mr Morrissey said that “the last two years have been terrible and we miss her everyday.

“Myself and Libby went swimming a couple of weeks ago, we were in a pool and a family came in, and I caught myself staring at them because it was a mam, a dad, and a girl around the same age as Libby, and when I looked at Libby she was doing the exact same thing, and that’s the kind of thing that catches you out.

“Everything myself and Libby do, we do together, but Ruth is always missing, she was obviously a huge part of our lives.

“But Ruth has kept us going, we have to keep going, we walk the dog, we go for a swim, Libby loves gymnastics, and horse riding, we keep busy with school and work, we keep going because Ruth did tell us, ‘keep going, don’t be moping about’, she warned me, ‘move on with your lives’, she was brilliant.”

Mr Morrissey said he pulled back from the CervicalCheck campaign and social media after his wife’s death, in order to “focus” his time on Libby, “because time moves so fast”.

Poignantly, Libby turned nine on the day after her mum passed away, said Mr Morrissey: “Libby is heartbroken obviously in terms of how much she misses Ruth, but I try to keep her busy and plan her birthday and what we are going to do on the day.

“We will always mark Ruth’s birthday too, get a birthday cake, balloons, and put butterfly’s on it for Ruth, we always did it so we will keep doing it.”

Despite the CervicalCheck scandal, Mr Morrisey said he is not bitter: “I learned a very valuable lesson a long time ago that, being angry and upset consumes you and eats you away, I learned that at a young age, and I’ve left all that go, because if I don’t move on, I’d harbour some resentment, and to be honest myself and Libby haven’t got time for that, we just want to move on.”

He said his daughter has found some solace in horse riding, and attending a pony camp: “She loves it, and I heard about (equine therapy) and that was the thinking behind it, it does help and she does love with being with the animals; it’s not just riding the horses, she grooms them, she looks after them, she cleans out their stables, and it takes her mind off stuff, so it’s great for her.”

Mr Morrissey thanked Fianna Fáil councillor Catherine Slattery and her party colleague Joe Pond for their efforts in organising Ruth’s plaque.

Cllr Slattery said: “I just wanted to acknowledge Ruth and the work she did for the women of Limerick and Ireland, and to give Paul and Libby a quiet place where they could go and sit and think about Ruth.”

The inscription on the plaque reads: “Ruth Morrissey, 29th June, 1981 – 19th July, 2020. In loving memory of a wife, a mother, a hero, our angel. May she Rest In Peace.”