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Inquiry into Savita's Death Will Be Fair, Methodical: Ireland

Facing all round flak, Ireland today announced a 7-member team headed by a noted Sri Lankan doctor to probe the tragic death of an Indian dentist after doctors allegedly refused to terminate her 17-week pregnancy despite serious complications, saying "this is a Catholic country".

It also promised that the official inquiry would be fair, methodical and expeditious taking into account all factors.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) set up the inquiry team to be headed by Dr Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, a London-based obstetrician/gynaecologist, The Irish Times reported.

Arulkumaran, who hails from Sri Lanka, is the head of obstetrics/gynaecology department in the Saint George's, University of London and has been in clinical practice for 37 years.

Savita Halappanavar, 31, died from blood poisoning at University Hospital Galway on October 28 after doctors allegedly refused to perform an abortion stating "this is a Catholic country" where this was not permitted.

Philip Crowley, HSE's national director of quality and patient safety, said the inquiry would identify all the facts through a fair and methodical investigation and identify any safety issues arising.

He said the investigation would be concluded in "the shortest" possible time and it will be done expeditiously.

Crowley said the inquiry team would be "examining all the factors that may have influenced the death of Mrs Halappanavar... The terms of reference have not been published because we are committed to sharing them with Mr Halappanavar in the first instance and until we do so we will not publish them."

He, however, said there would be no mystery or great surprises in them.

"There is a standard, evidence-based international approach to investigating incidents and severe adverse events and that is the approach we will be taking in this case," said Crowley.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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