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Wednesday 22 January 2020

'I promised Savita's parents I'd get justice for their daughter'

Caroline Crawford

THE husband of Savita Halappanavar has promised her family a public inquiry will be held into her death.

Praveen Halappanavar said he was in contact with Savita's family in India three to four times a day. The grieving husband made the comments as he met Health Minister James Reilly to discuss his concerns about the existing inquiries into his wife's death.

The meeting took place as it was confirmed the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) will investigate the death of Savita as part of a wider probe into how Galway University Hospital looks after patients who are critically ill.

It announced the investigation following a request earlier this week from the Health Service Executive (HSE), which has already ordered its own clinical review of the tragedy.

A spokesman for Galway hospital said it would be co-operating fully with the HIQA inquiry.

It is already co-operating fully with the investigation team for the clinical incident review and with the coroner.

However, Mr Halappanavar is maintaining his position that he will not be happy with anything short of a public inquiry into her sudden death from septicaemia after she was refused a termination at the hospital while miscarrying.

"We must continue to fight. I have promised her family," said Mr Halappanavar.

"They are still waiting for the truth, they are eagerly waiting. I talk to them three or four times a day and they are always looking for an update. I just talked to her father and he is concerned as to why it is taking so long to start the investigation, it has almost been a month. They are very concerned," he told the Irish Independent.

Mr Halappanavar yesterday met Dr Reilly for 30 minutes privately. During the meeting he expressed both his own concerns and those of Savita's family in India. "I'm just glad that we met and he just passed on his condolences to the family. It is (important) for the family. I will pass this on to Savita's family," he said.

"I'd like to thank the minister for his condolences and for taking the time to come and meet us," he added. Mr Halappanavar has revealed how the support he has received in Ireland and around the world has helped him continue with his campaign. "It has been overwhelming, I am pleasantly surprised. We never thought we would have such support from both the Irish people and people outside the country," he said.

Solicitor for Mr Halappanavar, Gerard O'Donnell, described the meeting as productive and said he hoped the minister would now reflect on it and establish a public inquiry into Savita's death.

The solicitor said his client would consider making an application to the European Court of Human Rights if his plea for a public inquiry was not met.

"It will be a matter for himself to decide thereafter what he will do.

"It is certainly within his remit to call whatever form of inquiry he wants that meets with the requirements that I have set out," he added.

Mr O'Donnell also insisted the Government could appoint a High Court judge to deal with the matter in a swift manner.

"Such an inquiry would be pretty quick in my opinion and would come to the truth pretty quickly about what happened to Savita," he added.

Mr O'Donnell said no timeframe had been set down for the minister to reply to Mr Halappanavar's concerns.

Speaking earlier in Galway, Dr Reilly refused to rule out a public inquiry into the matter but stressed that the HSE inquiry would continue. He also welcomed the HIQA inquiry into Mrs Halappanavar's death.

Speaking in Limerick later, he said he expects the clinical investigation to report in weeks. Until he gets their report he was unable to say what the next step will be.

Irish Independent

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