Interview with woman who has terminal cancer "seared the soul of our country", Dáil hears

Emma Mhic Mhathuna said she is "dying when I don’t need to die"

Interview with woman who has terminal cancer "seared the soul of our country", Dáil hears

Dara Calleary.

The Dáil has heard an interview with a young mother who now has terminal cancer has "seared the soul of the country."

37-year-old mother of five Emma Mhic Mhathuna spoke of her heartbreak at her cervical cancer diagnosis in 2016, having been given the all clear three years earlier.

She told RTÉ: "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."

Emma also criticised the Government, arguing: "They’re all hiding there in the Dáil and they don’t see what I see."

The issue was raised in the Dáil during leader's questions by Fianna Fáil Deputy Leader Dara Calleary.

He observed: "It's an interview that would stay with anyone who heard it - it seared the soul of our country.

"It's hard not to be completely distraught at the devastating heartbreak that Emma and her family are facing, and there are no words that anybody can say that will console her, her five children, her family or her friends."

He added: "Emma's only one story in an ocean of anguish."

Responding to Deputy Calleary, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said details in the interview were "harrowing to hear".

He noted: "There are few words that I can offer that can recognise the scale of tragedy and vast difficulty that Emma and her family are grappling with at the moment.

"The Taoiseach, the Minister for Health and the entire Government are absolutely committed to doing two things: firstly to ensuring that we establish why this happened, who is accountable, and how this can be prevented in the future.

"The second priority of the Government was to put in place all the supports that we can to offer supports to women, and to offer comfort to women at a time of such great vulnerability."

It comes amid continued pressure from opposition parties for HSE chief Tony O'Brien to step aside over the cervical screening controversy.

Mr O'Brien - who is leaving his role later this summer - has refused to resign, and earlier accused a TD of trying to cause 'hysteria' over the Cervical Check scandal.