Referendum report: Savita ‘put people thinking’, says Limerick TD Niall Collins

Jess Casey


Jess Casey


Savita Halappanavar, who died in 2012 from  septicaemia

Savita Halappanavar, who died in 2012 from septicaemia

THE TRAGIC death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012 struck a chord with Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins and made him first consider his position on the Eighth Amendment.

Speaking from the Referendum count centre at Limerick Racecourse, Deputy Collins told the Leader he began to question where he stood on the issue of abortion following the death of the 31-year old Indian dentist at University Hospital Galway.

Ms Halappanavar died from septicaemia she contracted while miscarrying a 17-week pregnancy.

It later emerged she had been denied an emergency termination.

“I never had to engage in it really, up until 2012,” Deputy Collins said. 

“It's not an issue that people, unless they are faced with a crisis, ever really had to consider and thankfully in my own personal life, we were never faced with a crisis so we never really engaged with it.” 

“But I think Savita Halappanavar put a lot of people thinking.

“It certainly put me thinking and I came to the conclusion that the Eighth Amendment in the Irish Constitution was a hypocrisy.” 

“Telling women that its ok and legal for you to travel abroad to obtain health care, service and support but its not ok here?” 

The many personal stories he heard during the course of the debate made an impact on him, he added. 

“Savita Halappanavar was the trigger for a lot of people. That was a moment, I think.” 

“People have been engaged since, and before, then.”

“With the Citizens Assembly, with the All-Party Oireachtas Committee.”

“The people have listened to the obstetricians, the medical experts, the medical evidence which was given really impartially and honestly and fairly.”

“People have also heard the many personal testimonies during the last number of years,” he added. 

The Dáil should hold special sittings through the summer months in order to legislate for the result of the referendum, he believes. 

“The Oireachtas now has a responsibility to enact the overwhelming view of the people.”

“Any further delays to legislation would mean that more Irish women must travel in order to secure the healthcare they need, against the will of the people.”

“This is a situation which cannot be allowed to continue.” 

Fianna Fáil is prepared to work throughout the summer months, he added. 

“We believe that this will give us the time needed to ensure that legislation is enacted before the end of the year."