'A shame it took until now for people to notice': Mark Molloy
HE was only with them for a short time but the parents of Mark Molloy have spent two years fighting for answers.
Yesterday tearful parents, who felt helpless for years as they searched for answers about the deaths of their babies, became emotional with relief that at last they were being heard.
Mark Molloy, who had lost his son Mark two years ago in Portlaoise Hospital, welled up with emotion as he recalled their two-year ordeal. "It is unfortunate that is has taken until 2014 for people to sit up and take notice," he said.
"We have been highlighting this at the most senior levels of the HSE and either through incompetence or arrogance they decided to ignore it.
"Babies were dying and we wanted it to stop. I am delighted the next inquiry is to include the high levels of the HSE as well."
Earlier, Health Minister James Reilly struggled to keep his own emotions in check when he addressed the parents who gathered in Pearse Street library, Dublin, for the launch of the report.
"The stories of babies Katelyn Keenan, Joshua Keyes-Cornally, Mark Molloy and Nathan Molyneaux made a significant impression on me. I want to once again thank their parents Sharon, Thomas, Natasha, Shauna, Joey, Roisin and Mark who brought the serious failures identified in this report to light," he said.
The parents – who had to relive the painful memory of their baby's death as the catalogue of failures in Portlaoise was revealed – later hugged the minister while expressing hope he will deliver on his promise of a safer service.
All babies died from the effects of lack of oxygen after staff failed to recognise or act on signs of foetal distress during their mother's labour, according to internal HSE reviews. The women were given syntocinon to speed up labour but this caused a further drop in oxygen.
Mark and his wife Roisin described it as a "bitter-sweet day".
He said: "No matter what happens we will not get Mark back. But there is comfort in knowing other babies will go home safely because of this. It's a good starting point.
"People are put in positions of trust to look after patient safety. If they don't deal with the safety issues before them time and time again, their positions should be seriously looked at."
Roisin said it was very upsetting to hear other babies may also have died from similar failures in Portlaoise since Mark's death. "A number of other families have come forward and it is harrowing to think he was not the last. When we found it out, we felt guilty we did not go public sooner.
"Together we will make sure it will be safer. The burden of responsibility is lifted from us now." She said they were seen as the "bad people" and were asked to just leave it.
"Mark did not get respect as an Irish citizen."
Shauna Keyes, whose baby Joshua died in October 2009, said she was still waiting for a review of his death to be carried out and this has now been promised.
"We hope something good will come from the loss of our children. They deserve to be treated like human beings. I feel elated. In four short weeks they have taken away the pain we felt for four years.
"It is four years with no answers. It has been very frustrating. All you are meeting are walls. People do not deserve to be treated like that. We have had a hard enough time.
"I had a lot of hopes and dreams for Joshua. Then I thought I could not carry children. It puts a toll on your relationship. You feel your life is on hold and I have not received a proper apology."