Taoiseach condemns "unacceptable" incineration of babies' organs at Cork hospital 2 months ago

Taoiseach condemns "unacceptable" incineration of babies' organs at Cork hospital

Mr Martin said: "In my view, that this was done without the consent or knowledge of the bereaved parents is cruel and unacceptable."

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin has condemned the incineration of babies' organs without the consent of the bereaved parents at Cork University Maternity Hospital.

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Speaking yesterday afternoon, Mr Martin described the decision to send the organs to be incinerated in Belgium as "unacceptable and cruel".

He said: "In my view, that this was done without the consent or knowledge of the bereaved parents is cruel and unacceptable, and I certainly would be anxious to facilitate a debate in the house and questions to be asked."

He added that the Minister for Health is currently "seeking assurances from every other site across the country that this did not occur".

Mr Martin's comments came after RTÉ reported that the organs of 18 babies were sent abroad to be incinerated without the consent of the bereaved parents.

This is contrary to the HSE's standards, which stipulate that when organs are kept for examination at post-mortem, the hospital must support the family and facilitate a sensitive disposal of the remains, either by burial or cremation.

The families of the deceased babies were told in May that the organs had been incinerated last year.

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In a statement issued to RTÉ , the hospital apologised for the "distressing incident", which they said occurred "under very extenuating and unprecedented circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic."

The hospital has now commissioned an investigation into the incinerations. It is currently at an early stage and will be finalised this winter.

The Department of Health, meanwhile, has told RTÉ that the HSE will ensure that all Irish hospitals comply with their standards for issues relating to post-mortem examinations going forward.

Last night, RTÉ Investigates covered the story, and heard from the affected parents on Prime Time.