Gilmore defends standard of Irish maternity services
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said that Ireland is one of the safest places in the world to give birth.
Mr Gilmore's comments come as a helpline opens at The Midlands Regional Hospital in Portloaise today for people concerned about giving birth at the facility.
It follows an RTÉ Prime Time documentary entitled "Fatal Failures" which highlighted the deaths of four babies over a six-year period at the hospital.
It emerged that prior to these deaths, midwifery staff at Portlaoise had written to two ministers expressing concern over low staffing levels at the hospital.
The HSE has since apologised to the families.
Speaking at The Labour Women's national conference in Dublin, Mr Gilmore said the Government has sent a strong message to hospitals:
"This country is one of the safest countries in the world in which to give birth," Mr Gilmore said.
"Our maternity services are very good and very safe.
"We put a huge emphasis on making sure that they are safe, and there's a very strong message from Government to all hospitals to ensure that our maternity services are safe and that women are safe in childbirth."