President calls for Savita investigation which 'meets the needs of the family'

President Michael D Higgins has today called for an investigation into the death of Savita Halappanavar which "meets the needs of the family", as well as the public and the State.

Savita, 31, died 17 weeks into her pregnancy in Galway University Hospital on October 28 after losing her baby. She contracted septicaemia.

“I think that what is very important and what is very moving to me as President is to see the enormous response among the Irish public to the sad death of the wonderful Savita and how tragic it all is,” said President Higgins during a three-day trip to Liverpool and Manchester.

“My wish, frankly, is that there be some form of investigation which meets the needs of the concerned public and meets the needs of the family and meets the need of the State.”

Savita's husband, Praveen Halappanavar, has decided not to engage with the HSE investigation at this stage.

Mr Halappanavar is battling the Government and health chiefs to hold a sworn, public inquiry into her death, which he claims happened after she was denied an abortion on medical grounds.

In an interview with RTÉ to be broadcast tonight, Mr Halappanavar said he has no faith in Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) to run an investigation after seeing how his wife was treated as she miscarried.

“We are just not confident in the whole family about the HSE leading this investigation,” he said.

“These people are salaried by the HSE. They pay them. We think that there would be some kind of bias during the investigation.

“We are requesting a public inquiry basically funded by the Irish Government.

“I have seen the way my wife was treated in the hospital so I have no confidence that the HSE will do justice. Basically I don’t have any confidence in the HSE.”

President Higgins rejected suggestions that Ireland’s reputation around the world has been damaged by the controversy, saying that he hoped that Irish women will get the medical services they are entitled to internationally in the wake of the death of the Indian dentist.

Mr Higgins urged respect for the Constitution, which gives equal right to life to the mother and unborn child, and for a 2010 European court ruling which found a woman living in Ireland had her human rights violated by being forced to travel overseas for a termination for fear she would suffer a cancer relapse during pregnancy.

“The Irish constitution and later European court cases have to be respected and we have to move on,” he said.

The President said he hoped inquiries into Ms Halappanavar’s death would meet needs on three fronts.

“But look, at this particular time, as President of Ireland, my sympathy goes to her husband and to her relatives in India and I do hope that there will be such a satisfactory investigation as meets those family needs and also meets the State’s responsibility,” Mr Higgins said.

“And also, particularly above all else, out of it women will be safer and get the medical services to which any woman is entitled in any part of the world.”

At least 10,000 people marched through Dublin on Saturday demanding reform of abortion laws.

Further protests and candlelit vigils have taken place in New York, India and elsewhere, including another demonstration at the Dáil tonight.

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