President and Taoiseach lead tributes to Vicky Phelan

President and Taoiseach lead tributes to Vicky Phelan

THE PRESIDENT of Ireland Michael D Higgins is among those who are paying tribute to CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan who has passed away at the age of 48.

She died in the early hours of this morning at Milford Hospice in Limerick.

Ms Phelan was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014, three years after a smear test which showed no abnormalities.

However, an internal CervicalCheck audit found the original smear check result to be wrong.

Her campaigning led to the Scally Independent investigation and 2018 report into the controversy.

It also led to the establishment of the 221+ support group and a State apology.

"All of us who had the privilege of meeting Vicky will have been struck by the powerful inner strength and dignity with which she not only faced her own illness, but with the sense of commitment to the public good and the rights of others with which she campaigned," the President said in a statement today.

"Vicky, in all of this, made an enormous contribution to Irish society. Thanks to her tireless efforts, despite the terrible personal toll she herself had to carry, so many women’s lives have been protected, and will be protected in the future.

"She will be deeply missed, by all of those who were in awe of her courage, her resilience, offered not only to women but to all of us in Ireland.

"She will of course be missed above all by those closest to her. May I express my deepest condolences to Vicky’s parents Gaby and John, her husband Jim, her children Amelia and Darragh, and to all of her family and friends.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has also spoken about Vicky today.

"Vicky was a woman of extraordinary courage, integrity, warmth and generosity of spirit.

"She made a very significant contribution to public life in Ireland and Vicky’s actions and commitment will live long in the memory of the entire nation.

"Vicky ensured the embedding of the principle of full public disclosure in the area of public health.

"She was an outstanding advocate for women across this country, and across the globe."

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said she "leaves a legacy of enormous and enduring impact which has touched the lives of many people, and in particular women and families affected by cervical cancer."

"My thoughts are with Vicky's family and many friends on this sad day."

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said Ms Phelan was a campaigner who took on the State and won.

"Vicky Phelan, Mother, Daughter, Sister, Champion of Women, Campaigner who took on the State and won. Rest in Peace", Ms McDonald wrote on Twitter.