Mothers climb Croagh Patrick to raise awareness of medicinal cannabis campaign

Handout photo of (left to right) Gino Kenny, Vera Twomey, Noreen O'Neill as two mothers campaigning for medicinal cannabis to be legalised in Ireland have climbed, Croagh Patrick in Co Mayo, one of the country's most challenging peaks, to raise awareness for their campaign.
Handout photo of (left to right) Gino Kenny, Vera Twomey, Noreen O'Neill as two mothers campaigning for medicinal cannabis to be legalised in Ireland have climbed, Croagh Patrick in Co Mayo, one of the country's most challenging peaks, to raise awareness for their campaign.

Two mothers campaigning for medicinal cannabis to be legalised in Ireland have climbed one of the country's most challenging peaks to raise awareness for their campaign.

Noreen O'Neill and Vera Twomey said while the climb was tough, it is nothing compared to the everyday challenge trying to secure cannabis oil for their children.

They have also vowed to keep up their campaign until the government ensures their children get the medication they need.

Just seven people in the Irish Republic have been granted a licence to be prescribed cannabis oil.

The two women, along with 85 supporters, climbed Croagh Patrick in Co Mayo on Sunday.

Ms O'Neill, from Kilgarvan, Co Kerry, has so far been unsuccessful in getting a licence for treating her son Michael with CBD oil.

Michael has been diagnosed with bilateral frontal polymicrogyria, a brain condition, and global developmental delay.

Ms O'Neill said he was suffering up to 20 seizures a day before she started treating him with CBD oil.

"This (walk) is just something we feel had to be done," she said.

"The Government is going off for summer recess in a couple of weeks' time, we needed to get a clear message to them.

"We are simply not going to take this lying down.

"We will keep doing things like this until someone comes back with a workable policy."

Ms Twomey's daughter Ava Barry is one of the seven who has been granted a licence to be prescribed cannabis oil.

The Co Cork woman joined the climb in support of Ms O'Neill, and also to call for cannabis oil to be recognised as a drug with medical benefits.

She said her daughter has not been admitted to hospital in an emergency in the almost two years since she started the cannabis oil treatment.

But she said the licensing system in the Irish state is not working.

"The licensing system is broken, it's inadequate," she said.

"Cannabis is scheduled as a drug with no medicinal value. That needs to be changed.

"In Ireland, people are going out and getting it from inappropriate places because of the current situation. They have no medical support.

"Every person has the right to be prescribed the medicine they need."

The women were also joined by Dublin People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny who has proposed a new law calling for unrestricted access to medicinal cannabis for patients who need it.

They set off around 1pm, and the walk to the summit and back took just under five hours.

Ms Twomey has been an active campaigner on the issue in Ireland for many years, and once set out to walk from Cork to Dublin to raise awareness of her daughter's case.

She stressed it is not just an Irish issue, but a global one.

"There are thousands of people across the board in Ireland in chronic pain with things like cancer, epilepsy or multiple sclerosis that need this," she said.

"So if there are thousands in Ireland there must be millions in Britain that should possibly have an option for this."

Earlier this year, Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced the UK Government would conduct a review of medical cannabis.

It followed a public outcry when a severely epileptic boy was admitted to hospital in a critical condition when his cannabis oil was confiscated at Heathrow.

Billy Caldwell, 12, was rushed to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital having been free from seizures for almost a year when his mother Charlotte - from Castlederg in County Tyrone - began treating him with cannabis oil.