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Concerns over court space for Savita's inquest

THE inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar is set to take place in the second-smallest courtroom of the four at Galway's courthouse, which could lead to serious space problems, due to the widespread interest in the case.

With an estimated capacity for 70, Court 3 usually houses visiting judges hearing special cases. There are just three seats assigned for journalists.

This was the only room available to the Coroner's Court, due to the regular sittings of Galway District Court on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

It was hoped that Court 1 would be available for the Halappanavar inquest on Monday only, but that was ruled out last week when a Circuit Court civil case was listed.

Additional seating is to be installed on both sides of the bench to accommodate the jury and members of the media.

If the hearing goes into another week, proceedings will then have to be moved to either County Hall or City Hall as there will be no facilities available in Galway Courthouse.

Dignity

At the preliminary hearing in January, west Galway coroner Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin promised Praveen Halappanavar that the inquiry into his wife's death would be undertaken with "solemn respect, dignity and courtesy to you and to the memory of the deceased – your beloved Savita".

In January, junior counsel for Mr Halappanavar, John O'Donnell, indicated that a senior counsel, Eugene Gleeson, would be present for the hearing and that the services of a stenographer would be required.

Dr MacLoughlin was advised that 48 members of hospital staff had already made statements in relation to the medical care that the pregnant woman (31) received at University Hospital Galway prior to her death on October 28 last year.

And there were another six statements due to be handed over within a week of the preliminary hearing. A further eight were also said to be outstanding.

The coroner advised both sides to come to some agreement over which witnesses needed to be called.

Mr Halappanavar may well call additional expert witnesses to give evidence, Mr O'Donnell added, depending on the content of the statements made by medical staff.

Irish Independent