‘We will never forget’: Emma Mhic Mhathuna remembered a year after death

Former partner and sons place flowers on Co Kerry pier for CervicalCheck campaigner

The former partner of the late Emma Mhic Mhathuna has said he and their children "will never forget" her, speaking on the first anniversary of her death.

Ms Mhic Mhathuna, one of the women affected the CervicalCheck controversy and a mother of five children, died on October 7th last year, at the age of 37.

Events to remember Ms Mhic Mhathuna are being held across the weekend. Ms Mhic Mhathuna's former partner Colin Mac Mhathuna and their three sons James, Mario and Donnchadh shared private prayers and a blessing with the parish priest in their home in west Kerry on Saturday and later walked to Ballyavid Pier to place flowers.

A prepared statement was read out by Mr Mac Mhathuna, in which he thanked the people of west Kerry “as well as the schools and sports clubs, for being so kind and gentle in helping us through a very challenging year since Emma tragically passed away”.


"We would like to thank my family, in particular my mother and sisters, for their tremendous support over the past year. We would also like to acknowledge the support of my close friends, in particular long time family friend Colm Quinlan who has become a second grandfather to my sons," he said.

Mr Mac Mhathuna and his sons completed the ceremony stating together: “Emma we love you, we miss you, but we promise, we will never forget you.”

Ms Mhic Mhathuna was one of the 221 women with cervical cancer found to have received incorrect smear test results during a clinical audit of past tests by the CervicalCheck screening programme. In June 2018, Ms Mhic Mhathúna and her five children settled a legal action over the controversy for €7.5 million.

The family had sued the HSE and US laboratory Quest Diagnostics Incorporated. Quest Diagnostics admitted misreading her two cervical smear slides in 2010 and 2013.

In a moving interview with RTÉ's Morning Ireland in May 2018, Ms Mhic Mhathuna revealed she was terminally ill.

She said if her smear test had been read correctly in 2013, “I wouldn’t be where I am today”.

“That is what makes it so heartbreaking. I’m dying when I don’t need to die. And my children are going to be without me, and I’m going to be without them,” she said.

“I tried to do everything right by, you know, breastfeeding and being a full-time mum, and sacrificing, you know, my own life for them.

“I didn’t see it as a sacrifice and now I’m going to miss out. And I don’t even know if my little baby is going to remember me.”

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times