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Updated: November 17, 2012 02:41 IST

Our probe will stand up to international scrutiny: Irish Minister

Hasan Suroor
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Ambassador of Ireland to India Feilim McLaughlin
The Hindu Photo Library Ambassador of Ireland to India Feilim McLaughlin

Hopes probe into death of Savita will be independent

India's Ambassador to Ireland Debashish Chakravarti met the Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore on Friday and conveyed New Delhi’s concerns over Savita Halappanavar’s death as Dublin assured that it was “committed to establishing the full circumstances and facts” of the case which has caused outrage across Ireland amid growing calls for a review of the country’s archaic anti-abortion law.

The meeting, which lasted 30 minutes, came as anger spread with protests being held in Belfast in Northern Ireland ahead of a massive rally planned by pro-choice campaigners in Dublin on Saturday.

Ms. Halappanavar (31), a dentist, died from septicaemia after she was refused abortion by doctors at a government hospital despite apparent risk to her life.

Brian Hayes, a junior minister, admitted that Ireland had suffered reputational damage as a result of the controversy. Health Minister James Reilly promised that the two inquiries ordered into Ms. Halappanavar’s death—one by the Galway University Hospital where she died and the other by Ireland’s health service—would stand up to international scrutiny.

Mr. Reilly said Ms. Halappanavar’s family was “entitled to know as quickly as possible what the facts of the situation were” and they would not have to wait “one minute longer” than necessary.

“I know this is an extremely difficult and traumatic time for them and I don't want to see either of the investigations delay one minute longer than they have to and leave this family in doubt as to what really happened,,” he said.

Responding to criticism of lack of clarity around abortion laws, Mr. Reilly said the government was “digesting” an expert group’s report on the issue.

He acknowledged that it was important to clarify the circumstances under which it was permissible to terminate a pregnancy.

Earlier, Mr. Chakravarti told RTE, Ireland’s national broadcaster, that Ms. Halappanavar’s death was a matter of deep regret to the Indian people and that he hoped the investigations would be completed quickly.

In another newspaper interview, he said the incident had caused great pain and anguish among the Indian community in Ireland but he insisted that it would not affect the relations between the two countries which he described as “extremely cordial.”

Prime Minister Taoiseach Enda Kenny said his government would respond by November 30 to a European Court of Human Rights ruling calling for reforms to abortion laws.

The government faced criticism for not legislating on a 1992 court ruling that abortion could be permitted if there was a “real and substantive” risk to the life of the mother.

Irish envoy summoned

Special Correspondent from New Delhi writes:

The mounting public outrage over the death of an Indian woman after she was denied abortion by doctors in Ireland forced the Ministry of External Affairs to summon the Irish Ambassador on Friday and convey the “concern and angst in Indian society at the untimely and tragic death.”

Echoing some of the views expressed in the country, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told journalists: “Saving the life of the mother is of prime importance, if you can’t save the life of the child.”

M. Ganapathi, Secretary (West), summoned Ambassador Feilim McLaughlin and told him that India hoped the inquiry into the death would be independent.

He said India was unhappy that a young life had come to an untimely end and hoped the Indian Ambassador in Dublin would be regularly updated on the progress of the probe.

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(1) Clearly the mess created by the Irish Govt is for the Irish people
& Govt to sort out. But they would make a mistake to think that they
can just brush off the whole matter as mass hysteria in a far off
undeveloped country.
(2) Besides explaining the apparently inexplicable issues, they must
explain their long silence between Oct 20? till when the media outed
them.
(3) There are a few loose cannon comments eg ‘catholic bashing’, ‘pro-
abortion lobbying’ etc. Mud-slinging is counter-productive and
hopefully saner counsel will prevail.
(4) Those who deride “the fuss over a medical-negligence death” admit
to the ‘fakery’ of the need to wait for an enquiry, and display
precisely the callousness beneath contempt which Ireland stands
accused of.
(5) For the sake of humanity, I hope the very many sane voices in
Ireland that want to learn from the tragic event & improve Ireland /
the world for the better, are not drowned out by those blinded by
religious tradition or mistaken national pride.

from:  D Mahapatra
Posted on: Nov 17, 2012 at 16:52 IST

@ Joe, I think you are wrong here. The issue here is not about following one countrys rules and laws. The main issue is about saving an innocent young woman life who has falling victim to an archaic law. Which is more important: an unborn fetus with problems or a woman fighting for her life to get it aborted? You decide.

from:  Rudolf P.
Posted on: Nov 17, 2012 at 16:48 IST

Yes, this is a tragic and very sad case.
65% of the doctors in Irish State Hospitals come from India and Pakistan, 2.5% from Arab countries 3% from Eastern European countries.
I would be thankful if the husband would identify the doctor or doctors who said to him that Ireland is Catholic country.
This poor lady should have crossed the border, just a few miles from Galway, into British territory in Northern Ireland.
I have visited Ireland many times and found the people to be kind and welcoming to outsiders and it has a large Indian population in a small nation.
Walter Long,
Berlin
Germany

from:  Walter Long
Posted on: Nov 17, 2012 at 15:11 IST

Given this incidence, I question whether Ireland qualifies for secular democracy.

from:  Sahil
Posted on: Nov 17, 2012 at 00:27 IST

This news is just an overreaction by people who want to legalize
ABORTION. In this incident, these People are living in a foreign
country. If we are living in any country we have to abide by the rules
and laws of that country. If abortion is legal in India and illegal in
Ireland an Indian living in Ireland cannot say that because i am an
Indian i want abortion. This is not right. Moreover this case is not at
all about abortion and its legality, but is a clear case of medical
negligence, which should be investigated and necessary action is to be
taken. So there is no need for Government of India, or National
Commission for Women (NCW) to intervene. What people should understand
is that the incident is being used by PRO-CHOICE activists who support
abortion to get abortion legalized in Ireland. The diplomatic officials
of India in Ireland should ensure that investigations are being
conducted on this sad incident.

from:  Joe
Posted on: Nov 17, 2012 at 00:02 IST

Savita's family should sue the Irish government on the grounds of
dereliction of duty while this young woman was in their care.

from:  Richardmccarthy
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 22:47 IST

It is very sad that 2 lives are lost because of the so-called Irish
law which is pending for amendment for the last two decades. When the
law of the country says that it is prohibited to do foetus killing in
their land, what prevented them to ensure that the mother's life is
saved. Why the hospital authorities did not realise that it was only a
mercy killing of an unborn to save its mother. The Irish hospital
atleast could have made arrangements to shift the patient to nearby
country or send her back to India. Why the Irish hospital did not act
? For Savita was a doctor ; imagine the fate of other individuals
living in Irish country.

from:  BASKARAN R V
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 21:48 IST

Pope should consider a review Vatican's stand on Abortion in the light
of what happened to Savita.By refusing abortion, both the mother and the
child have been killed. Pope should consider allowing an exception when
the Doctor comes to the conclusion that two lives would be lost if
abortion is not carried out in time.Pope can disallow the exception once
scientific advancements in this area can ensure that both lives can be
saved without resorting to abortion.

from:  Kousalya Murali
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 21:05 IST

If the Catholics want to follow the teachings of their church, it
is fine. But church should not dictate what people of other faiths can
or cannot do. High time for Catholic Church keep off interfering in any
country’s law.

from:  N.G. Krishnan
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 20:51 IST

India should also make an enquiry into its own mission in Ireland which did not help
the husband citing that it's holiday !!!
It is surprising that media in India which goes Gaga over NRI achievements does not
highlight the treatment Indian missions abroad dish out to its own citizens. Can we see
some journalism please ?

from:  sunny
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 20:43 IST

it's a pity that humanbeings dont wake up until they meet the
consequences[ in every case].no role played by the sixth sense.

when every practising indian doctors know the existing rules,cant they
sense such cases earlier.

raising voices against rule after an incident is similar to applying
brakes after a hit.

poor sixth sense....

from:  balasubramanian ganesan
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 20:42 IST

I'm so glad that India is taking Irish to task over allowing one of their citizens to die needlessly.

For too long have we allowed the religious extremist to set the rules in this regard.

Please know that a majority of the Irish want abortions safe and legal--leaving such personal decisions between a woman and her doctor.

That day is drawing every closer!

from:  Michael Collins
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 20:30 IST

WOW

So much fuss over one death due to medical negligence in IRELAND!!
How about your own country?
Several people die daily due to such negligence and most of the times the matter does not appear in media.
At least they have a system to highlight such matters and give respectable compensation to the victim and take precautions that such incidences do not happen in future.

from:  LAKHAN MENARIA
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 20:21 IST

This is the most foolish thing a government can do ( besides Krishna
reading the Spanish speech in the UN. While we sympathise with the
affected family they were private citizens in that country and the law
of that land survives. The most the government of India can do is sever
diplomatic relations as country violates human rights and does not
respect secularism.

from:  raghavan
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 20:16 IST

I am an Irish person and i cant apologise enough for this situation. The problem is not religion (though its a problem for many other reasons) , the problem is cowardice in government and amoung the elite classes here in ireland. They let this woman die because noone wanted to take the risk that their career might be effected. I would ask that the indian people not let this go, demand justice because your country deserves it. They are going to try to sweep this under the carpet, dont allow that to happen. There are large protests going on outside the dail (parliment) about this. It is disgusting and a major national shame. The lady deserved so much better.

from:  Daly
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 18:45 IST

This is a bad approach. If the local rules are such and the doctors do not cooperate in Irland what the government of India can do. We have many cases like this in India and no action is being taken against the negligent doctors and hospitals. Media is again going for "Breaking News" only.

from:  mani
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 18:24 IST
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