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One a day Live

'It is very upsetting for everybody': Tributes pour in for Emma Mhic Mhathúna

Emma Mhic Mhathúna, one of the women at the centre of the cervical cancer controversy, has died in Kerry aged 37.

Ms Mhic Mhathúna was one of the most public figures in the CervicalCheck crisis and has been continuously praised for her bravery and openness during the controversy.

The mother-of-five was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2016 after receiving two incorrect smear results in 2013.

In July, she was told that her cancer had spread to her brain, leaving her terminally ill.

Ms Mhic Mhathúna, whose children range in age from two to 16 years, successfully sued the HSE and a US laboratory used by CervicalCheck in May.

Tributes to Ms Mhic Mhathúna have been pouring in on the various social media platforms since the news broke of her death.

President Higgins has led the tributes to Ms Mhic Mhathúna.

In a statement, he said he sent his condolences to Emma's family, friends and family in the wider community in West Kerry.

President Higgins said: "When I met her and her children in May, I was greatly struck by her poise and bravery, in the midst of what was a very difficult time for her family and friends.

"On behalf of the people of Ireland, I send my condolences to her family, friends, the wider community in West Kerry, and to all those who have shared Ms Mhic Mhathúna’s journey as she battled the disease."

Vicky Phelan, who exposed the cervical cancer scandal, told RTÉ: "There are five children left behind here, with the youngest only two."

She added: "It is very upsetting for everybody, but I suppose in my case I am still dealing with terminal illness and it really brings it home… it is very difficult."

In a statement, the Irish Cancer Society extended "its deepest sympathy to the family of Emma Mhic Mhathúna on the announcement of her sad passing."

The charity added that "Ms Mhic Mhathúna showed tremendous bravery in talking to the nation about her cervical cancer diagnosis.

"Through her honesty she became a hugely influential advocate for women’s health and an inspiration to so many.

"Ms Mhic Mhathúna's important efforts in highlighting the HPV vaccine will mean fewer women will have to go through a terrible disease which has taken her life all too soon."

Liz Yeates, CEO of the Marie Keating Foundation added: "We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Emma Mhic Mhathúna. This tragedy reminds us of how the 221 women and their families at the heart of this cervical screening controversy have been so badly let down.

"The Marie Keating Foundation is doing all we can to offer support to these women and those affected and to give them a voice. We offer our deepest condolences to Emma’s children and wider family at this very difficult time."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Ms Mhic Mhathúna did everybody a huge service with her advocacy for the HPV vaccine.

“Despite her own tragic experience, she consistently supported the screening programme and encouraged women to continue engaging with the service.

“I am determined that something positive should come from this tragedy, and it’s my objective to virtually eliminate cervical cancer in Ireland."

Health Minister Simon Harris said Emma had shown an incredible bravery in fighting a terrible disease.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin expressed his deep sadness and said Emma was an incredibly brave and courageous person who sought the truth so that others would not have to go through the same challenges she and her family went through.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou Mc Donald said Emma faced her illness with a resolve and courage that was an inspiration to all.