The Taoiseach confirmed in the Dáil yesterday that no one from the Government, including the Minister for Health, had made personal contact with the Halappanavar family or with Praveen Halappanavar. I find this inexplicable and beyond acceptable. There should have been contact, and personal contact, from the very beginning.
This failure has been compounded by the added failure from the outset to establish a proper and fully independent inquiry that would command the confidence not only of the Halappanavar family, but of the wider public in regard to the full circumstances surrounding Savita's tragic death in Galway University Hospital. The whole process of establishing the inquiry unfortunately has been a sorry saga and somewhat of a shambles. That cannot be easy for anybody, particularly the Halappanavar family, or for the staff in the hospital. A coroner's inquiry is already under way and the Garda has taken statements. Irrespective of all that has happened and despite the fact that the three members of staff of the hospital have been taken off the inquiry team, the Minister is ploughing ahead with his plans to have the kind of inquiry he envisages, which is not a truly independent one, because of a duty to care to women. I argue it is that very duty of care to women which should cause the Government to stand back and reflect on this afresh. There is no point in proceeding and ploughing ahead with an inquiry that nobody has any confidence in from the very beginning.
The Commissions of Investigation Act 2004 was passed by this House to allow for a speedier method of investigating matters of urgent public concern. Within that legislation there is a vehicle for the Minister and the Government to establish an independent inquiry that would be speedy, comprehensive and voluntarily could seek the co-operation of all involved but crucially would also have power in respect of the compellability of witnesses and documents, if that was required. I ask the Taoiseach to give serious consideration to doing that. I am sure the House would approve because, under that Act, it would have to come before the House. I have no doubt that there would be support across the House for such an inquiry. We need the truth and we need it in a way that commands the wider confidence of the public and also the confidence of the Halappanavar family.