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Irish PM appeals to Savita's husband to cooperate

November 21, 2012 19:29 IST

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on Wednesday appealed to the husband of Savita Halappanavar, an Indian dentist who died due to pregnancy-related complications after being denied abortion, to meet the head of the team probing her death, amid his demand for a full public investigation.

Kenny said Savita's husband Praveen could meet Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, the chairman of the team, without prejudice to his views or his future feelings towards the investigation.

"Comments attributed to the man (Praveen) in the national newspapers are very different than what I see emanating from the legal team," Kenny said.

He told the Dail, the Irish Parliament, Wednesday morning that Praveen had said he did not want any person associated with Galway University Hospital involved in the investigation team.

"And that will be the case," Kenny said.

In his remarks in Parliament, Fianna Fail party leader Micheal Martin said Minister for Health James Reilly should have had contact with Praveen. "And nobody would have cast any aspersions on such contact," he added.

Martin said that if contact had been made, "We might not be where we are now in terms of the progression of this particular issue."

He said he did not think it was appropriate to be making public appeals to Praveen, given the circumstances, and that he was grieving because of the loss of his wife.

According to the Irish Times, Kenny said he believed it was in everybody's interest that the Chairman of the probe team should have a meeting with the husband of the deceased.

"I am not suggesting any manipulation at all, deputy," he added.

Sinn Fein party leader Gerry Adams said the government's handling of the matter had been "ill-judged and mismanaged."

Praveen is seeking a public investigation of the death of his wife last month. He says Savita asked repeatedly for a termination after her miscarriage but was refused as a foetal heartbeat was present.

The investigation into her death was thrown into turmoil even before it got off the ground after the Health Service Executive on Monday named three Galway hospital consultants on the inquiry panel.

Within 24 hours they had been axed amid concerns of a conflict of interest.

The inquiry chairman, internationally-recognised Arulkumaran, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at St George's University of London, has offered face-to-face talks with Savita to address his concerns.

The family's solicitor Gerard O'Donnell has dismissed calls for a meeting.

"To do so would be in some way to acquiesce with the investigation or the person appointed by the HSE to investigate," O'Donnell said.

The legal team has also threatened not to allow access to Savita's medical notes and demanded a public inquiry with an opportunity to cross-examine medics.

A rights watchdog, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, backed calls for an independent inquiry.

Earlier, Irish minister for Health Reilly said he had a duty of care to women to ensure there were not any unsafe practices in Galway University Hospital, where Savita died.

He said he wanted the Health Service Executive to get on with the investigation as quickly as possible.

Praveen told The Irish Times he and Savita's parents wanted a full public inquiry funded by the Department of Health and not by the HSE.

He said the removal of the three consultants from Galway University Hospital from the inquiry, announced by Kenny in the Parliament yesterday, was not enough

"I am not happy with it. They just set up a panel and didn't consult us at all. I am not happy with the HSE. The HSE are the ones who messed up Savita's care. Basically I am insisting on a public inquiry."

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