Taoiseach defends Halappanavar contact decision
The Taoiseach defended the decision by the Minister for Health and himself not to have direct contact with Praveen Halappanavar.
Enda Kenny said that if he and James Reilly had contacted Mr Halappanavar, “a different construction would be put upon it”.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said: “No, there would not.”
Mr Kenny replied: “Yes, there would. The fact of the matter is that the legal team operating now for Praveen Halappanavar has requested that the HSE would conduct all business through its legal team.”
Mr Kenny appealed to Mr Halappanavar to meet Prof Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, chairman of the team investigating the death of his wife, Savita, at Galway University Hospital.
He added: “I would appeal directly to Praveen Halappanavar, who is a decent man, to meet the chairperson of the investigation team, without prejudice, because it is very necessary that the truth of these circumstances be found out . . . all of the documentation and all of the contracts in this public hospital are within the structure of the HSE.
“The eminence and integrity of the chairman of the investigation team will be added to by persons of competence and experience from outside the hospital, who have nothing to do with the hospital, to determine what happened in the lead-up to the unfortunate and tragic death of Savita Halappanavar.”
Mr Kenny said that comments attributed to Mr Halappanavar in the national newspapers were very different from what he saw emanating from his legal team.
Mr Martin said that if contact had been made with Mr Halappanavar, “we might not be where we are now in terms of the progression of this particular issue”.
He added that he did not think it was appropriate to be making public appeals to him, given the circumstances and that he was grieving because of the loss of his wife. Also, it was not appropriate “that we split hairs between what the solicitor says and what the Taoiseach adjudges Praveen Halappanavar to be saying via the media”, he added.
Mr Martin claimed the Taoiseach was “putting forward an extraordinary position that he is being manipulated by his legal representatives”. He added that there were precedents for the establishment of independent inquiries outside of agencies and at one remove from institutions.
Mr Kenny denied he was suggesting any manipulation.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said he did not understand why the Taoiseach had signed off on an inquiry without the consent of Ms Halappanavar’s family, particularly when the Minister for Health had stated they were being consulted.