Taoiseach does not rule out inquiry

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has not ruled out an independent inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar.

Mr Kenny said the hospital and the HSE would carry out investigations and it was appropriate to wait for the outcome of those before deciding on “the best option based on the facts”.

He stressed that a report commissioned from an expert group on abortion law which was presented to Minister for Health James Reilly this week was “quite separate” from what he termed the “tragic case” in Galway.

The Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, who proposed that an independent external inquiry take place, said later: “I welcome the fact that internal investigations have been launched, but I do not believe that these are a suitable alternative to a full independent inquiry.”

Speaking in Brussels, Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte said what happened Ms Halappanavar was an unspeakable tragedy.

“I’m quite sure that if the facts are as I’ve heard them this morning in terms of this very sad Galway case, of course it will have implications for the debate that is likely to happen following on the receipt of the report from the expert group by Minister Reilly,” he said.

Dr Reilly said during a visit to Mallow, Co Cork that “clarity must be given to the medical profession as to when they can intervene and when they can’t under the law in this country”.

The Minister added: “Whether that’s done by legislation or by way of directive or by way of referendum – there are a whole host of possibilities here so I want to read the report to see what direction it sends us in.”

Independent Senator Rónán Mullen said: “In fairness to the medical staff involved, we should await the outcome of the investigations that have been established. According to medical council guidelines, widely accepted medical practice and Irish law, a woman in Ms Halappanavar’s situation is entitled to the medical treatment she needs.

“This is true regardless of the existence of a foetal heartbeat or whether her unborn child might die or already have died. A primary issue in this case may have been the diagnosis and management of infection. But there would be no good legal or ethical reason why an induced delivery could not have taken place, once the medical situation called for that.”

He added that it was “regrettable that some people are seeking to use this tragedy as an argument for legislating for the Supreme Court decision in the X case”.

Sinn Féin Health Spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said while we must await the outcome of ongoing inquiries before drawing conclusions on all aspects of this case, it was clear “that the tragedy highlights once again the need for long overdue legislation” .

Chief Whip of the Technical Group Catherine Murphy said: “What happened to Savita Halappanavar can never be allowed to happen in this country again.

“Earlier this year I supported the Bill which could have prevented this tragedy from occurring but unfortunately that Bill was defeated by Government.”