The National Screening Service has apologised to the family of a woman who died from breast cancer after failing to detect abnormalities in two consecutive BreastCheck mammograms.

The High Court heard that 63-year-old Kay O'Keeffe from Clonmel in Co Tipperary, died in May 2017.

She had mammograms in 2011 and 2013, but an abnormality seen in both sets of imaging was not detected at the time.

Ms O'Keeffe was finally diagnosed with incurable cancer in 2014.

In an apology read in open court today, the National Screening Service wrote to her husband this year to acknowledge that Ms O'Keeffe should have been recalled to their assessment clinic on both ocassions.

The service sincerely apologised for the "breach of duty" and accepted that this delay "materially contributed" to her death.

It also expressed sincere regret to her husband, Patsy, and her three children for what had happened and for its devastating consequences.

The case was settled and agreed.

Mr Justice Paul Coffey extended his deepest sympathy to Mr O'Keeffe and his children.

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A solicitor acting on behalf of the O'Keeffe family read a statement on their behalf after the hearing.

Lorcan Dunphy said the "admission and public apology provides a level of justice for Kay, her husband and her family for these catastrophic failures and their tragic outcome".

In the statement, the family asked: "How could two consecutive mammograms, on the same person, performed two years apart, be misread on each occasion, when every mammogram is read independently by two consultant breast radiologists?"

It continued: "It is extremely hard to understand how the failure to detect the abnormalities on four independent readings occurred and clearly indicates a process failure.

"The responsibility now rests with BreastCheck to provide the assurance to women in Ireland that such failures can never happen again."

Labour TD Alan Kelly, who supported the family's case, said: "Today’s public apology marks the culmination of years of struggle by Patsy and the O’Keefe family to get some level of justice for Kay’s treatment.

"They owed it to Kay. The catastrophic failures in process in this case are clear. The question is how did they happen?"

"I am a huge supporter of BreastCheck and indeed all screening services. My track record demonstrates this. Screening saves lives.

"However, it is incumbent on me to ask the National Screening Services and BreastCheck what they have done in the intervening years to ensure no such process failures as catastrophic as this could ever happen again and I will in support of the O’Keefe family continue to do so."