A private maternity hospital and two consultant obstetricians have apologised to a couple in the High Court for the death of their baby boy almost six years ago.

Senan Dodd died two days after his birth at Mount Carmel Hospital in Dublin on 28 March 2008.

The action by the Dodd family was settled for an undisclosed sum.

The High Court was told that obstetricians, Gerry Rafferty and Valerie Donnelly, had ignored or failed to correctly interpret a foetal heart trace which showed the baby was in distress.

The trace showed the baby's heart rate was slowing at 3.50pm on the afternoon of 28 March, but he was not delivered until four hours later.

The court was told an expert witness would have given evidence that if Senan had been delivered within an hour or even an hour-and-a-half of the slow heart rate being detected he would have escaped injury.

The court heard the obstetricians continued to administer oxytocin - a drug to speed up contractions. It also heard there were no facilities in the hospital at the time to take a foetal blood sample.

Baby Senan was deprived of oxygen and suffered brain damage.

He died on 30 March in Holles Street Hospital.

An apology on behalf of all defendants was read out in the High Court today.

They said they wished to acknowledge fault in the management of Roberta Dodd's labour leading to the death of her son.

They said they wanted to apologise sincerely to David and Roberta Dodd for the tragic loss of their baby and the hurt and suffering that resulted to them from the care provided on that occasion.

Afterwards, Senan's father David said the death of his son was sadly avoidable and that he had been a beautiful and healthy baby boy.  

A spokesperson for Mount Carmel Hospital said facilities for foetal blood sampling, which were not in place when Senan Dodd was born, are now in place at the hospital.

Dr Rafferty was found guilty of professional misconduct in April last year in relation to his treatment of two other women.

He was allowed to continue practising under a number of conditions.

However, a spokesman for Mount Carmel said he had not worked for the hospital since the beginning of last year.  It is understood he had been on leave before then.

Dr Donnelly continues to practise as an obstetrician in Mount Carmel hospital.