‘We are poorer for the loss of Vicky Phelan, but truly richer as a nation for the contribution she so generously made to Irish life’ – Averil Power, CEO, Irish Cancer Society
Tributes are pouring in this morning following the death of cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan.
The mum-of-two passed away from terminal cancer at Milford Hospice in Limerick in the early hours of Monday. She is survived by her daughter Amelia, 16, and son Darragh, 11.
The trailblazing academic uncovered one of the biggest medical and political scandals of our time, and campaigned tirelessly for justice for the 221+ women affected by CervicalCheck scandal.
Ms Phelan’s actions have helped to ensure that women will, in future, be better informed about their own health. She leaves behind a legacy of empowerment for Irish women and patients everywhere.
Tributes are beginning to pour in for Ms Phelan this morning, highlighting the debt of gratitude owed to her campaign.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “Vicky was a woman of extraordinary courage, integrity, warmth and generosity of spirit. She made a very significant contribution to public life in Ireland and Vicky’s actions and commitment will live long in the memory of the entire nation.
“Vicky ensured the embedding of the principle of full public disclosure in the area of public health.
“Vicky stood up for the public interest, particularly in relation to the CervicalCheck scandal.
“She was an outstanding advocate for women across this country, and across the globe.
“Vicky always gave selflessly of her time to help others, even though she was going through severe illness herself.
“The people of Ireland have a deep affection for Vicky, and will always hold her contribution to public life in the highest regard.”
An incredible loss to the nation today.
Vicky Phelan, who uncovered one of the biggest medical and political scandals of our time, and campaigned tirelessly for justice, has died. Gone far too soon and before her time. RIP.https://t.co/I2tFdWr0mZ pic.twitter.com/h36ceP4zok
— HerstoryIreland (@HerstoryIreland) November 14, 2022
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said: “Vicky leaves a legacy of enormous and enduring impact which has touched the lives of many people, and in particular women and families affected by cervical cancer.
“My thoughts are with Vicky’s family and many friends on this sad day.”
Ní Bheidh A Leithéid Ann Arís. Vicky Phelan, Mother, Daughter, Sister, Champion of Women, Campaigner who took on the State and won. Rest in Peace. pic.twitter.com/kxBf2hcgzf
— Mary Lou McDonald (@MaryLouMcDonald) November 14, 2022
Averil Power, CEO, Irish Cancer Society said: “Vicky refused to be silent in the face of great personal challenge and the issues she brought to light changed the course of history for women in Ireland. Without her courage and her determination, others would not have known the truth behind the Cervical Check failings.
“Despite her own experience Vicky was a staunch champion of screening and tirelessly encouraged others to take up the offer when it was their turn. Unselfishly – and true to her trademark sense of fairness and conviction – it is the promotion of screening that is such an important part of Vicky’s legacy, which will go on to save many lives.
“Cervical cancer robbed her of her future and left her coping with severe side effects during her final years. Because of her advocacy, others will never have to go through what she went through.
“On top of her national advocacy, which will leave a lasting impression on Ireland as a country, Vicky was so generous with her time and energy to support others affected by cancer.”
Vicky, through her own experience, started important conversations about the physical and sexual side effects of her cancer and treatment, which in turn led to the Irish Cancer Society piloting the Women’s Health Initiative.
Averil Power said: “Most of all we will remember Vicky’s good humour, her empathy, her kind-hearted nature and her openness that contributed so much to Irish life and to the cancer community in recent years.
“We owe her a debt of gratitude that we must work tirelessly to repay by ensuring that women’s health is prioritised and promoted. Vicky’s legacy demands nothing less. “
Vicky Phelan made our country a better place. Everyone who came into contact with her was the better for it. Her advocacy & determination brought about change. Her kindness & decency brightened lives.
The most incredible advocate I’ve ever met. Thinking of her family & friends
— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) November 14, 2022