Girl (7) granted licence for use of medicinal cannabis

Vera Twomey walked from Cork to Leinster House to highlight daughter’s struggle

Minister for Health Simon Harris has granted a licence for the use of medicinal cannabis by seven-year-old Ava Barry from Cork who suffers with a severe form of epilepsy.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin raised the issue in the Dáil and paid tribute to Vera Twomey who campaigned for her daughter to have access to the product.

Ms Twomey walked from Cork to Dublin and to Leinster House in a campaign to have access to the drug to prevent her daughter’s severe epilepsy attacks.

She was stopped at Dublin Airport in May when customs officers seized the prescription drugs she had bought in Barcelona.


Ava has been under the care of a neurologist in the Netherlands who had been monitoring the use of a form of cannabis, and that, combined with the involvement of doctors in Ireland resulted in a successful application.

“We never wanted to leave home. I did everything I could at home to get this treatment. But Ava’s situation got too serious,” Ms Twomey told Newstalk Breakfast.

“We never wanted to leave home, they forced us, they wouldn’t cooperate. We didn’t get a lot of help from the Government.”

“She’s been suffering, she misses her family, but we had no real options left. There was no other medicine we could try.

“We ran out of options.”

Ms Twomey said that medicinal cannabis has changed Ava’s life - “it has changed her cognitive ability, it’s quite dramatic.

“Her balance, dancing, she’s speaking more, her appetite, sleep, general awareness. It’s such a relief.”

Mother and daughter hope to be home soon. “It’s very close.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris said he could not comment on individual cases but he confirmed that he had “signed another licence for a citizen, a little girl” to access a medicinal cannabis product.

He said it was the third licence he had signed. The Minister stressed that “all licence applications that have been validly submitted with the support of a monitoring consultant in Ireland have been granted”.

Mr Martin asked when would he roll out a rapid access programme for medicinal cannabis in 2018.

The Minister said he hoped to be in a position to do so early next year.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is a parliamentary correspondent with The Irish Times