On Saturday, October 13, Limerick people gathered in remembrance at a rally for the late Emma Mhic Mhathúna and other victims of the recent cervical cancer check scandal.
In addition to commemorating 221 women, this rally, held in Arthurs Quay, called for greater accountability and reform in order to prevent further needless loss of life.
Speakers included Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan, Solidarity activist Mary Cahillane and organiser Sarah Jane Hennelly who spoke of Emma’s advocacy and read aloud a quote Emma once said: “When somebody is dying, they have so much strength because they are fighting to survive.”
A book of condolences was signed by close to 100 people in attendance outside Chez le Fab.
One of the organisers, Alice Collins, spoke of the reasons behind the vigil: “I was motivated by the death of Emma Mhic Mhathúna last weekend and I learned about the rally in Cork and decided to organise one in Limerick; it was upsetting to hear she passed away and you want to do something and try and make a change.”
Members of the crowd wore red and held candles to show their support for the victims and for the women of Ireland.
ROSA (for Reproductive rights, against Oppression, Sexism & Austerity) member Shirley O’ Brien attended to support the cancer victims and said that “every woman in this country has been on her own journey when it comes to the cervical results, the injustice is unreal, we have to make sure it won’t happen again and those that were involved in it are held to account.”
Ms Cahillane spoke of the trauma women have suffered and that justice will only prevail by protesting the renewal of outsourcing contracts.
She also told of the confusion and unnecessary suffering that women still have over where their smear tests are being analysed.
“They took the cheapest option and women died and women suffered as a result” she said.
Co-organiser Megan O’ Brien read out a sombre poem that was circulated on social media followed by a minute’s silence.
“We extend our deepest condolences to Emma’s family and friends and want to commemorate her for her bravery,” she added.
Musician Emma Langford attended to show her respect and ended the rally with her haunting song ‘Marianna’.