By Andrew Byrne
A motion on cervical cancer awareness passed unanimously at the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) congress this morning after strong speeches from DCU and UCC students.
Dublin City University (DCU) student, Caoimhe Ni Mhaolagain, spoke during the motion to a crowd of around 300 students from student unions across the country.
Caoimhe, who is the current humanities representative on the DCUSU, shared a story with Congress of a young girl from her secondary school who has been diagnosed with a terminal case of cervical cancer.
“This girl is 20 years of age, she is younger than I am, she did not think at any stage of her life that cervical cancer was going to affect her, let alone her family… this affects far more people than you would believe.” She said.
“I’m terrified, I’m 21, sure I can’t get it for another four years. That is an absolute utter disgrace.” She added.
Currently, people in Ireland cannot get access to free smear tests until the age of 25. As the motion has passed the USI will now bring free smear tests into third level institutes across the country which will have a massive impact according to Caoimhe.
“There is going to be a massive push on giving free smear tests to girls who are in college, like normally between the age of 18 and 21, and that is going to have a massive impact.” Caoimhe said.
People will be able to pick up the fact that they have these tumours and viruses in them and the cancerous cells long before they have to wait five years until they actually develop and nothing can be done.” She added.
Transsexual man, Marz Keane, from University College Cork spoke about his own experience with cervical cancer. A current class representative on the UCCSU, Marz hoped to raise awareness that smear tests are not just for women, they are for non-binary or trans men also, and the access to these tests for members of those communities is important.