22 May 2022

In pictures: Vicky Phelan 'blown away' by Freedom of Limerick honour

CERVICAL check campaigner Vicky Phelan has dedicated the Freedom of Limerick she was conferred with to her friend, the late Ruth Morrissey.

Following tonight's ceremony, Ms Phelan becomes just the fifth woman to have received the honour.

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PICTURES: Alan Place

Limerick’s Ruth died at the age of 39 in 2020 following inaccurate readings of cancer smear tests in both 2009 and 2012, and at a ceremony in Dooradoyle tonight, Vicky described her friend as “someone who also would deserve this honour.”

Vicky, who now lives in Annacotty said when Mayor Daniel Butler contacted her before Christmas to confirm the council will be bestowing Limerick’s highest honour on her, “it blew me away”.

“I assumed this type of award is for someone born and bred in Limerick or in the particular county where the award is offered. When he explained why and where it was coming from - that there were so many people contacting his office wanting to give me a card or a sculpture or painting, that there was a huge demand for something to be given to me to recognise the work I've done, I couldn't believe it,” she added, “That’s why it means so much to me, because it’s coming from the people.”

During a pared-back ceremony, Vicky was joined by her closest family, including her husband Jim and son Darragh.

Mayor Butler said conferring the Freedom on the campaigner was “his greatest honour”, and added simply: “Limerick loves you.”

The ceremony saw a video where Limerick’s public paid warm tributes to the mum-of-two, something which she said “had me in tears”.​

She revealed she gets “five or six cards a day” from people across the country.

But Shannonside is her home – so much so, she said, that if the Treatymen play her native Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final, she will be cheering on those in green!

Among those congratulating her on the honour was An Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

But she urged all of Ireland’s politicians to “take a good strong look at themselves”, and warned: “There is still a lot of work to be done, particularly on the implementation of some of the recommendations from the cervical check report that Dr [Gabriel] Scally undertook, and particularly in light of what has happened in Kerry across the last number of weeks.”

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