President's comments were 'reflective and humane' - Minister Joan Burton

Friday 23 November 2012 12.01
President Higgins: 'My wish, frankly, is that there be some form of investigation.'
President Higgins: 'My wish, frankly, is that there be some form of investigation.'

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said President Michael D Higgins' remarks on the Savita Halappanavar case were "considerate, thoughtful, reflective and humane".

She was speaking after his comments were raised in the Dáil by Fianna Fáil's Billy Kelleher, who said not even the President has confidence in the HSE inquiry.

Last night, the President said it was his wish that there be "some form of investigation" following Ms Halappanavar's death.

Speaking during a visit to Liverpool, he said: "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."

"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."

Mr Kelleher said the President’s views reflect those of the Irish people.

The Ceann Comhairle reminded deputies that, under the Constitution, the President was not answerable to the Dáil, and they could not discuss his comments.

Ms Burton said that she could not help but be moved by the Prime Time interview last night with Praveen Halappanavar.

She said the thoughts of every citizen of the country, from the first citizen down, was with the family.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael TD James Bannon said it was unusual for President Higgins to comment on the matter because "these are normally matters for the Government and the Oireachtas".

He said he felt Mr Higgins was speaking in a personal capacity because of his long-established links with Galway.

In Liverpool today, the President said that it was not his business to express an opinion on what the outcome of an inquiry should be, but said his remarks were aimed at insuring the safety and the health of women.