Health Minister Simon Harris has granted 7-year-old Ava a licence for medicinal cannabis
A 7-year-old Cork girl has been granted access to medicinal cannabis following high-profile efforts by her mother.
Ava Barry will soon return home from the Netherlands, after Health Minister Simon Harris granted her a licence for medicinal cannabis.
It follows an extensive campaign by Ava's mum Vera Twomey - who ultimately brought her daughter abroad to live so she could access treatment for a severe form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome.
Ms Twomey had previously walked from Cork to Dublin to raise awareness as part of her campaign to highlight the situation facing her daughter.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast from Holland - where Ava began cannabis treatment during the summer - Vera says it has been a challenging few years.
She explained: "We were so delighted to have [Ava] improving everyday on this medication. But we were tied up here in Holland - we couldn't come home.
"She's been away from the rest of her family at home, and that's been hard for her."
Vera explained that they had run out of options for treatment after other medication proved ineffective.
She told Shane: "We started this [campaign] in 2015 looking to see if we could access medical cannabis like other families in other countries.
"We never wanted to leave home. We never wanted to go from Ireland."
However, after failing to receive the support they were looking for at home, Vera says they had no option but to travel abroad - and it has changed young Ava's life.
Vera explained: "The introduction of the medication that she's on over here has improved her cognitive ability quite dramatically.
"She's speaking quite a bit more. Every aspect - her appetite, her sleep - is improved."
Following yesterday's news, Vera & Ava are hoping to return home very soon.
She said: "I can't say exactly what day, but it will be soon - there's some more bits of paperwork to be done.
"It's just such a relief [...] I want to thank everybody out there that have supported and helped us over the time.
"You've no idea sometimes what even a short message can do. It's been a long haul over here, and we appreciate what people did for us."