Republic of Ireland news

Emma Mhic Mhathúna: Hundreds gather for funeral of cervical cancer campaigner

The funeral Mass for Emma Mhic Mhathúna, one of the most high-profile victims of Ireland's cervical smear test controversy, at St Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin 
Aoife Moore, Press Association

Hundreds of mourners have lined the streets of Dublin for the funeral of Emma Mhic Mhathúna, a high profile campaigner in the Republic's cervical cancer check scandal.

The 37-year-old mother of five died on Sunday after a battle with cervical cancer - she was incorrectly told her smear test results were normal up until she was diagnosed in 2016.

The funeral procession was lead by her husband Peter and five children Natasha, Seamus, Mario, Oisín, and Donnacha.

Family priest Fr Paddy Moran told mourners in St Mary's Pro Cathedral that Mrs Mhic Mhathúna had a "ferocious love for her children" and was "extraordinarily brave".

The coffin of Emma Mhic Mhathúna, one of the most high-profile victims of Ireland's cervical smear test controversy, is carried from St Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin following her funeral Mass 

"Emma was a person who loved fun, was herself very funny and sought humour even in the most unlikely of places," Fr Moran said.

"In her own pain, she reached out to others with compassion, profound caring and enormous love.

"And indeed to all who knew Emma, they were indeed all blessed."

CervicalCheck scandal: Report author fears more women could be impacted

Ms Mhic Mhathúna was heavily involved in a campaign for accountability regarding the CervicalCheck scandal which saw 221 women with cervical cancer not informed that smear test results showing them to be clear were inaccurate, and that revised test results were kept from them.

President Michael D Higgins arrives for the funeral Mass for Emma Mhic Mhathúna, one of the most high-profile victims of the Republic's cervical smear test controversy, at St Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin 

Fr Moran added that Ireland was lucky to have had someone like Ms Mhic Mhathúna in the public domain, and read from a children's book she was writing before her death.

"To Emma, thanks for being you and thanks for being such a powerful force of nature and a wonderful force for good.

"Thank you for touching the hearts of so many people when they heard you telling your story. Thank you for making us realise our own capacity for compassion and empathy. Thank you for your courage and your strength. Thank you for showing us the tenderness and beauty of a mothers love.

"Thank you for the hope you expressed that people are good and have a capacity to learn from mistakes and that what happened to you should not happen to any other woman in our land.

The coffin of Emma Mhic Mhathúna, one of the most high-profile victims of Ireland's cervical smear test controversy, at St Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin for her funeral Mass 

"Thank you for the encouragement you give to people who are suffering now, in hospitals, in hospices, in their homes. May they find in your strength courage in their suffering.

"Thank you Emma. You were and will always be a blessing for us all," he said.

At one point during the funeral, a woman stood up and told the church how Ms Mhic Mhathúna had inspired her, and a generation of Irish women.

Emma's son Seamus read a psalm during the mass, while her oldest child Natasha read out a letter from Irish TV personality Ryan Tubridy.

The letter read: "It feels peculiar writing about someone so present and so vivacious in the past tense. Emma should not be part of the past because she feels so present and yet it's highly likely that she will be remembered forever in the future."

In attendance was President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina, Comdt Caroline Burke, Aide de Camp to An Taoiseach, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin and Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin.

Ms Mhic Mhathúna's funeral procession passed by Leinster House, Government Buildings, and the Department of Health after the Mass.

The funeral Mass for Emma Mhic Mhathúna, one of the most high-profile victims of Ireland's cervical smear test controversy, at St Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin 

Politicians and their staff stood outside Ireland's parliament and clapped as the funeral cortege passed by, while some women held bunches of red roses.

In a statement released by her family yesterday, they said it was one Emma's wishes "to encourage those within to hold a mirror up to the organisations and agencies that they preside over politically and practically.

"The purpose of this route is not to protest. It is a final and departing effort to encourage those within to hold a mirror up to the organisations and agencies that they preside over politically and practically.

"Moreover, it is a request to those organisations and agencies to commit to ensure that Emma's tragic situation will never happen to another Irish mother or Irish woman again."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar requested that the flag over Government Buildings be lowered to half-mast as a mark of respect.

The funeral cortege also passed by Áras an Uachtaráin.

Ms Mhic Mhathúna was buried with her mother in Maynooth, Co Kildare.

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