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Ciarán Cannon speaking at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis earlier this year. Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Amid Savita death concerns, Minister bids to attract Indian students to Ireland

Department of Education and Skills says the week-long mission to India headed up by Junior Minister Ciarán Cannon was planned months in advance of the death of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar in Galway.

Updated 17.31

AMID THE CONTINUING controversy over the death of Indian woman Savita Halappanavar at Galway University Hospital last month, Ireland’s largest-ever education mission to India gets underway today.

Minister of State for Training and Skills, Ciarán Cannon, is leading the week-long mission to New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai in the hope of increasing the number of Indian students coming to  study in Ireland.

“We will be sending out a strong message to prospective Indian students that an Irish education is valued by international employers and will provide a real boost to their future career prospects,” Cannon said in a statement.

The mission was planned months ago, understands, and officials were not keen to cancel it despite the considerable concern raised in India at the death of 31-year-old Savita last month.

A statement from the Department of Education later this afternoon confirmed that the trip was “planned well in advance of the very tragic death of Savita Hallapanavar (sic)”.

The statement continued:

The Minister is leading the largest-ever education mission from Ireland, with approximately 60 high level representatives of 16 Universities, Institutes of Technology and other third level colleges.  The primary objective of the mission is to improve Ireland’s visibility in India as a destination for high-quality third level and post-graduate study. The mission will be strongly industry-focused, promoting Ireland’s attractiveness as a study destination in ICT, life sciences and other high technology areas.

Minister Cannon has not scheduled any meetings concerning the death of Savita Hallapanavar (sic) during his trip to India.  However, if the Minister is asked about the case, he will, of course, express the condolences of the people of Ireland to Ms Halappanavar’s family and explain the steps that the Irish Government is taking in relation to the arrangements for the investigation.

The Indian government last week expressed concern at the death of Savita who died last month following a miscarriage and subsequent blood poisoning.

Her family claim that she was denied an abortion despite repeated requests to hospital authorities. Speaking from India, Savita’s mother has said her daughter was “killed” by health authorities in Ireland.

The Indian government has taken the position of awaiting the outcome of the two inquiries set up into Savita’s death, neither of which appear to have got under way at this point.

‘Education mission’

A HSE inquiry into her death has hit trouble in recent days after Savita’s husband, Praveen Halappanavar, said he would not cooperate with it and called for a more independent inquiry.

The education mission has the 60 academics from 16 higher educations travelling under the umbrella brand of ‘Education In Ireland’.

Officials from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), IDA Ireland, and the online payments company Paypal are also on the mission with Cannon who said in his statement that this is a “huge opportunity for Ireland.”

“Indian students are highly sought after by top-class education institutions around the world and we want more of them to choose Ireland,” he said.

Some 1,000 Indian students study in Ireland at the moment, most taking up post-graduate degree courses in engineering, pharma, business, accounting, computer sciences and hospitality.

Cannon said there was further benefit to be gained from international students studying in Ireland, saying that they can help create local employment.

The Minister of State could not be reached for comment on the timing of the visit yesterday, as he was already in transit to India.

The trip was planned months in advance meaning it was unlikely to be cancelled.

Read: Savita tragedy continues to attract international attention

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