DOCTOR VICKY PHELAN, the Limerick mother-of-two who has influenced a seismic shift in women’s healthcare, has been awarded a prestigious Honorary Doctorate of Letters at University of Limerick.
Vicky, whose High Court case in April lifted the lid on the CervicalCheck smear test scandal, said she was “on cloud nine” when she was told she was to receive the honour.
In the 43-year-old’s citation at the ceremony, Dr Mairead Moriarty, assistant dean at the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences said that Vicky had an “ability to question, challenge, persuade and lead”.
“These are the skills that, combined with her natural fortitude, have proven to be of utmost value to Vicky in the face of huge personal tragedy and in challenging the healthcare system in Ireland.”
It added that her actions have helped ensure that women “will, in future, be better informed about their own health”.
“In her words and in her actions, she cultivates a legacy of patient empowerment,” it concluded.
At a press conference at UL’s Plassey House, Vicky said: “That is why I am doing this; it’s all young women with small kids, a lot of them a lot younger than mine. That’s the reason I am still at this, because I know I have to use my voice. Because people are listening to me at the moment. And I will keep going until I can’t, basically.”
Ms Phelan was joined at the ceremony by her husband Jim, her children Amelia and Darragh, and her parents John and Gaby Kelly as well as a large group of family, friends and invited guests.
UL president Dr Des Fitzgerald praised Vicky for her selfless commitment to public service, describing her as an inspiration to students, staff and the wider university community.
“She is an inspiration to our students, our staff and our community, she has brought great honour to the university,” he said.