Woman’s body may have been in hospital toilet for 10 hours

Inquiry into discovery of woman’s body in Galway hospital toilet

University Hospital Galway. File Photograph: Eric Luke

An investigation has been ordered into the death of a woman whose body may have lain undiscovered for up to 10 hours in a Galway hospital toilet.

The Saolta University health care group has confirmed that a body was found in a toilet close to University Hospital Galway's emergency department earlier this month.

The group, which manages five public hospitals in the west and north-west, could not state how long the body had been there before being found. The cubicle is marked for use by people with disabilities.

A spokeswoman for the group said that a person had entered the hospital building “unknown to any member of staff”, and was not registered as a patient in either the main hospital or its emergency department.


The toilet was locked from the inside, and it is understood the incident occurred over the August bank holiday weekend.

The hospital group has initiated an inquiry into the circumstances, and has referred the death to the Galway West coroner, Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin.

The Galway City Tribune has reported that the alarm was not raised for 10 hours, when the body was found during servicing of the cubicle.

Labour councillor Niall MacNelis said he has written to the hospital group, seeking answers to several questions, and said he believed the full facts of the case need to be disclosed.

Cllr MacNelis extended his sympathies to the woman’s family, and said it was a shocking event.

He said he could not understand why the toilet had not been checked more regularly as part of the hospital cleaning routine, and it was “unbelievable” that no one in the hospital seemed to have been aware of the presence of a body for many hours.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times