GP with legal expertise has 20 years experience as a coroner

Dr Ciarán MacLoughlin won praise for his handling of eight day hearing

Coroner Dr Ciarán MacLoughlin at Galway County Hall on the final day of the inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimon

Coroner Dr Ciarán MacLoughlin at Galway County Hall on the final day of the inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimon

Sat, Apr 20, 2013, 06:00

One of the longest single-person inquests in the history of the State has helped to explain the circumstances which led to Savita Halappanavar’s death in a Galway hospital last October, with much of the credit being given to the local coroner, Dr Ciarán MacLoughlin.

Some coroners are lawyers and others are doctors, but Dr MacLoughlin is a GP with legal qualifications and he brought both skills to bear on the inquest to good effect.

Understated in his authority, and precise in his questioning, he ran the eight-day hearing efficiently and effectively, as might be expected from someone who has been presiding over inquests for 20 years.

Based in Clifden, Dr
MacLoughlin would be more familiar with quiet clinics on the offshore islands than the media limelight – he was airlifted off Inishturk last year after suffering a severe allergic reaction to a latex glove.

Up to now, cases of poitín poisoning would have featured more prominently in his inquest workload than the complexities of maternal death.

Two years ago, Dr
MacLoughlin made the first finding at an Irish inquest of death by spontaneous human combustion.