Dáil Éireann - Volume 482 - 18 November, 1997
Written Answers. - Pathology Service.
Mr. Higgins (Mayo) Mr. Higgins (Mayo)
241. Mr. Higgins (Mayo) asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the timespan which elapsed before the State pathologist arrived at the scene of the suspicious death of persons (details supplied) in County Westmeath. [19344/97]
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue) John O'Donoghue
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): I am informed by the Garda authorities that the gardaí received reports of the suspicious deaths referred to by the Deputy at 3.20 p.m. on 8 November 1997.
The State Pathologist was contacted by the Garda authorities at approximately 5.30 p.m. He arrived at Mullingar Garda station at approximately 10 p.m. and he commenced his preliminary examinations of the bodies at approximately 11 p.m. The examinations were completed at approximately 2 a.m. on 9 November 1997. The bodies were then removed to Mullingar County Hospital, where the State Pathologist commenced the post mortem examinations at 11 a.m. and completed them at 11.30 p.m.
The State pathologist cannot examine bodies at scenes of suspicious deaths until the Garda authorities have completed their preliminary inspections of the scene. In this case, the Garda inspection was not completed until approximately 11 p.m. and it was only then that the State pathologist was free to commence his work.
I am satisfied that there was no unwarranted delay by the State pathologist in attending at the scene of these deaths.
I should remind the Deputy that, as I announced recently, a Deputy State Pathologist will be taking up duty early in January next. While the availability of a deputy would not have affected the timings involved in this case, the strengthening of the pathology service will be a decided advantage in the future, especially where suspicious deaths occur at the same time in different parts of the country and at times when the State Pathologist is not immediately available to respond to calls.
Dáil Éireann 482 Written Answers. Pathology Service.