Inquest opens into death of baby 24 years ago at Coombe hospital

Failure to report infant fatality at the time described as ‘travesty’ at coroner’s court

The failure to report the death of a baby girl at the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital to the coroner’s office 24 years ago has been described as a travesty at Dublin Coroner’s Court.

Baby Jennifer Anna McGarry suffered a spinal injury following a forceps-assisted delivery at the hospital in 1991. She died 2½ months later.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell was told the parents were "particularly exercised" over the management of their daughter's postmortem and the removal and retention of their baby's organs.

“We just want the truth to be brought out so this never happens to another woman. It shouldn’t have happened in the first place; our daughter died and we have no children because of it,” said Catherine McGarry.


Speaking after the inquest into their daughter’s death was adjourned, she said she was glad the process had begun.

“We are just glad, it’s after taking 24 years now. Hopefully, we will get some good results,” she said.

“We don’t want to comment further on it, we have been doing it ourselves up to now and we have legal help now,” said Stephen McGarry.

Extended wait

Barrister for the McGarry’s Ciarán Craven said the family had particular concerns about how baby Jennifer was treated and managed in the weeks before her death. Mr Craven said the family had waited 24 years for the matter to be ventilated and it was important that all aspects were fully examined.

Mr Craven said it was a travesty the inquest was being conducted 24 years later as had the death been reported in 1991, a full inquest would have taken place.

Noting the parents from Sally noggin, Co Dublin, had already waited 24 years, Mr Craven applied for a short adjournment of the inquest.

“It’s been a very long period and one does not want to add to it. However, a focused analysis and assessment will be in everyone’s ease,” said Mr Craven.

Barrister for the Coombe hospital Simon Mills said the hospital had numerous meetings with the McGarrys and a report had been completed based on concerns raised at those meetings.

It has been reported that the hospital apologised to the parents last year.

Dr Farrell adjourned the inquest for further mention to June 30.

“In view of what has happened I would be minded to grant an adjournment. I don’t see any other way,” said Dr Farrell.