After 2 years of campaigning for her daughter’s right to have access to medicinal cannabis, Vera Twomey finally displayed the licence for which she campaigned. She showed it as she, Ava, and partner Paul returned via Cork Airport from Holland on Saturday December 2nd, 2017.
Ava was in The Hague for medical care – which could easily have been provided on this island – since June, making Ava a very young (now 8 years old) medical exile.
The return of the family was eagerly awaited once it became known that the licence was to be issued. The announcement of this was made only the previous Tuesday, shortly after Minister for Health Simon Harris was made aware that the question of how young Ava Barry was abandoned by the southern ‘Republic’ could threaten his reelection.
However, young Ava has a mother of such strength and fortitude that being abandoned by the State was never going to be an insurmountable obstacle for her. Ultimately, assisted by a large array of people who would not stand idly by in the face of injustice, the State provided that which was required.
Below are photographs from the occasion of the return of the Barry family.
You can read more about the extraordinary efforts of Vera Twomey by choosing from the menu above.
Councillor Martin Browne of Sinn Féin Tiobraid Árann has asked for any journalists or photographers attending in Cork Airport NOT to use flash photography.
As a result of her medical condition, Ava Barry is photo-sensitive, particularly to bright flashes.
While Ava’s symptoms have improved vastly since her parents Vera and Paul took her to Holland for treatment, the underlying condition remains, and this means that excessive flashes – such as with flash photography – could trigger a seizure.
“It might not, but why would we take a chance?”, is the thought for tomorrow.
Ava and her family are due in around 10:20. Contact Martin Browne for media and other arrangements.
Councillor Martin Browne of Sinn Féin Tiobraid Árann has expressed his delight at the news that his intervention last night in the case of the 7 year old medical refugee Ava Barry has yielded a successful result. Cllr Browne cautions however that there are many, many more children and families that need similar treatment.
Cllr Browne said: “I am delighted to report that Minister Simon Harris has signed a licence for medicinal cannabis for Ava Barry. This is very, very, good news for this Cork family. We’re absolutely ecstatic that this Christmas that the Barry/Twomey family can be home together in West Cork.”
“Sinn Féin in Tipperary have followed the plight of Ava and her absolutely indomitable mother Vera Twomey since the start. I myself am glad to be able to say that starting in this county we connected the dots from Tipperary to Dublin to make the task of walking easier for Vera, and I thank all the Sinn Féin volunteers who helped out along the way then, and have helped up until now.”
“There were and are such a large number of people that came out to support Vera from all parties and none, both on that walk and since, that it should never have been the case that Ava had to go abroad. But she did, and the worry about that family being split up haunted us.”
“I hope that Vera is pleased at this point. Her achievement is immense. The work done by Gino Kenny TD in supporting her aim to care for her child cannot be overstated. His bill remains live, for as long as this Dáil remains, courtesy of Jonathan O’Brien and Louise O’Reilly among others.”
“But let’s not forget that Ava, special and wonderful as she is, isn’t unique in benefitting from medicinal cannabis. There are still so many more people who need access to this completely natural herb to live a normal life.”
“That we came as close as we did to the game of political Chicken between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil bringing down the Government, to be followed by a dissolution of the Dáil, remains a problem that the political systems of the Southern State seem unable to resolve. That those parties would even play their games before first looking after a 7 year old medical refugee all the way out in The Hague in Holland, from the little village of Aghabullogue in West Cork is worrying.”
“As a minor matter that should never have had to be debated about, the departure of former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald from the position of Táiniste is also to be welcomed.”
“But today, our thoughts are with Vera, Paul, Ava, Sophie, Michael, and Elvera and the extended Barry family and the prospect of them being at home in West Cork together for Christmas.”
Councillor Martin Browne of Sinn Féin Tiobraid Árann has called on Táiniste and former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to resign. He adds his voice to the growing clamour for her departure, but says neither she nor her Fine Gael and Fianna Fail colleagues in Government have shown any consideration for the effect their self-centred games may have on a 7-year old child in medical exile.
Cllr Browne said: “While Varadkar, Martin, and FitzGerald are standing on their hind legs all braying about which one of them is least wrong, it’s obvious to the rest of us that their only concern is their egos.”
“If Táiniste Fitzgerald doesn’t do the decent thing and step aside, there is a strong likelihood that the egos or Varadkar and Martin and their game of political chicken will go horribly wrong. If it does, what happens then to progress on medicinal cannabis, or any hope of getting young Ava Barry back home for Christmas?”
“For example, in the event of a dissolution of the Dáil Gino Kenny’s bill for medicinal cannabis would fall and the process would be set back months or years. Sinn Féin’s Jonathan O’Brien and Louise O’Reilly did marvellous work behind the scenes to keep that bill alive, while Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil would happily have seen it disappear. Gino continues to work on the bill, and while thousands of families would benefit from medicinal cannabis, none are as clearly mistreated by the Southern State than Ava Barry and her family.”
“For anyone who may not know, Ava is a 7 year old child receiving medicinal cannabis treatment in Holland. Her two sisters and her brother are younger than her, and are at home in Ireland for school. Ava cannot get the treatment she needs here, because of the inability of the State to get it’s act together. All the current wrangling between FF/FG serves to do is increase the risk of young Ava, her siblings and parents being forgotten and spending Christmas in a foreign State. Simon Harris’ “Compassionate Access Programme” won’t progress either when he’s out on the campaign trail.”
“Southern Ireland has long had a questionable attitude to the prioritisation and care of children, and it seems that isn’t going to change any time soon; while it’s obvious to objective observers that Táiniste Fitzgerald has a lot of explaining to do, it doesn’t seem obvious to her or the Taoiseach, and certainly not to Fianna Fáil the damage their games do. If Táiniste Fitzgerald doesn’t go and has to be pushed, the sound of Fianna Fáil crowing about their little victory will again drown out the sound of a small child’s voice seeking to be heard.”
“The depths of the self-interest of the political establishment are at a new low. Fitzgerald can start by doing the decent thing, rather than risk dissolution of the Dáil, and Varadkar and Martin might show a tiny amount of empathy or even a little Statesmanship; they could prioritise a 7 year old little girl who goes to bed at night away from a parent and from her brother and sisters, and ensure legislation is passed to bring little Ava home, before they go off on their hustings.”
I am not pleased that Mr Simon Harris has so far shown no inclination to assist; instead, it seems he has already reneged on his commitments.
Cllr Martin Browne of Sinn Féin has commended Tipperary County Councillors on their passing of a Sinn Féin resolution to support Vera Twomey. Vera Twomey has walked from Cork to Dublin to gain access to medicinal cannabis for her 7-year old daughter Ava who has epilepsy.
Cllr Browne said: “When I visited her at home on Sunday Vera wrote out some points she wanted me to make. I believe that the clear presentation of her argument is one of the deciding factors. Of course, it could just be that this was the right thing to do.”
“As we’ve seen, Vera’s case has garnered huge attention; regular readers should remember that just because RTE and the local papers don’t cover a story, doesn’t mean there isn’t a story. The story gets out via new media, and that’s true in this case. That attention is welcome if it brings change, and that means motions like this one to put the State on notice that the citizens aren’t happy with the treatment of the most vulnerable.”
“We put in a motion in the name of the 5 Sinn Féin councillors and are pleased to say the other councillors present supported it.”
“We in Sinn Féin in Tipperary were touched when we heard of the story of Vera and Ava. We really didn’t have any choice but to support her; we don’t see how anyone could fail to be moved by the situation of that family.”
“I’m glad to be able to say that I was able to travel much of the distance with her, and was witness to the huge outpouring of support in Dublin and outside Leinster House. But I am not pleased that Mr Simon Harris has so far shown no inclination to assist; instead, it seems he has already reneged on his commitments.”
Cllr Martin Browne of Sinn Féin Tipperary has called for immediate action on the part of the Minister for Health and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to address the needs of 7-year old Ava Barry, whose Mum Vera Twomey is walking from Cork to Dublin to highlight the need for medicinal cannabis and to protest at her poor treatment at the hands of the HSE and officialdom generally, including at the hands of those Ministers.
Cllr Browne said: “I was moved when I heard of the plight of Vera Twomey and her family. When she started her walk the first time I was sure that common sense and decency would see a speedy resolution. So I was pleased when I heard that Minister for Health Simon Harris contacted her directly, and expected that she would be helped in every way possible.”
“That hasn’t happened, and instead Minister Harris seems to have been playing politics with Vera Twomey. But Vera wasn’t playing, she was being a Mum, and a very determined one at that.”
“When we heard that Vera was forced to walk again, we felt that we should help. I’d like to think that any parent who prioritises their child would do what Vera is doing; but if the State was living up to the 1916 promise to “cherish the children of the nation equally” she wouldn’t have to.”
“On Friday 25th February our PRO (Fachtna Roe) sent emails privately to Simon Harris and to Catherine Zappone calling upon them to either fix the problem now or resign. Both Ministers have failed in their primary duties, and cannot be counted upon to defend the interests of a 7-year old child. They have broken the bond with the founding document upon which the Republic lays it’s claim to legitimacy, the 1916 Proclamation. By so visibly failing to honour the commitment to children of the proclamation these Ministers are encouraging others to re-evaluate their relationship with the State.”
“I support that call for action or for their resignations and re-iterate it now. Our PRO subsequently sent those letters by registered post, with the same content, to both Ministers. Many thousands of people have since emailed those Ministers and I have not heard of anyone receiving a reply. Our PRO equally has not.”
“The situation is actually quite simple: a young child is ill, with a life-limiting illness. There’s a bunch of people in Dublin who can improve that life at the stroke of a pen. But they won’t.”
“As a parent I can empathise with what Vera is going through, and I am amazed at her determination. But I am equally amazed that these two Ministers don’t appear to have that same empathy or concern.”
“The first duty of society is to it’s next generation. If the Dublin Government won’t take responsibility, then they should resign, starting with the Ministers for Health and for Children. This is an issue around the health of a child, pure and simple.”
“The choice is easy: help this child, or step aside and let someone else help this child.”
The letters sent are attached, and their delivery status can be checked here (Simon Harris: