Belfast Telegraph

Hundreds of mourners gather for funeral of cervical cancer campaigner

Mourners lined the streets of Dublin on Wednesday for the funeral of Emma Mhic Mhathuna.

Hundreds of mourners have lined the streets of Dublin for the funeral of Emma Mhic Mhathuna, a high profile campaigner in Ireland’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, Oisin, and Donnacha.

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

“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.”

Ms Mhic Mhathuna 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.

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The coffin of Emma Mhic Mhathuna (Niall Carson/PA)

Fr Moran added that Ireland was lucky to have had someone like Ms Mhic Mhathuna 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.

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Outside St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Dublin following the funeral mass (Niall Carson/PA)

“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 Mhathuna 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 Irish President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina, Comdt Caroline Burke, Aide de Camp to An Taoiseach, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin and Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin.

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The funeral mass for Emma Mhic Mhathuna (Niall Carson/PA)

Ms Mhic Mhathuna’s funeral procession passed by Leinster House, Government Buildings, and the Department of Health after the mass.

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.

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The Irish tricolour is flown at half-mast on Government Buildings in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

“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 the home of the Irish President, Aras an Uachtarain.

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

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