Belfast Telegraph

Six years on, family vow to find out how mother's body sustained 34 fractures following her death

By Brendan McDaid

The family of an elderly Strabane woman found to have unexplained injuries after her death have said they are still without answers six years on.

Maureen McGinley was found with 34 fractures which were sustained after she died from pneumonia at Altnagelvin Hospital on January 3, 2007.

Relatives held a protest outside the hospital to mark the anniversary of the 78-year-old woman’s death this week.

Her son Martin vowed that they would continue with their campaign to find out what happened to her remains.

Health Minister Edwin Poots’ department said they were considering issues raised by the family during a meeting at Stormont last year and would be in contact very soon.

The family has campaigned for an independent inquiry into what happened to Mrs McGinley’s body between her death and the coroner’s examination.

Relatives of the mother-of-eight have to date collected more than 18,000 signatures calling for such an inquiry.

Martin McGinley said: “It has been six years now and despite assurances there has been no movement at all from anybody. It has been six years of hell.

“We thought after meeting with Mr Poots he might have had a bit of intent to pursue this and that has given us hope.

“He wrote to the Attorney General John Larkin as far as we are aware, but there has been nothing since. Mr Poots said that if that didn’t work out he would take it forward his way. We are still hopeful something will come from this.”

Mr McGinley said that this glimmer of light was something the family had experienced several times before as new investigations were promised, only to end in disappointment.

“For a little bit there is some hope and then for the other 10 months of the year you are down in the dumps. This has been going on now for six years,” he said. “We left my mother after she died at 8.50pm and between then and the next morning when the undertaker arrived, something happened.

“Her body must have gone through some form of rough handling. Whatever happened, she had 34 fractures.”

Mr McGinley said that each Christmas and New Year was tinged with sadness because the questions over what happened remain unanswered.

“We do live on and you look forward to Christmas and New Year but then straight after it is her anniversary and it is there. If it takes us 20 years to find an answer we will find an answer,” he added.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “The department is carefully considering the issues raised by the McGinley family and the minister will be in contact with the family in the near future.”

A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office declined to comment.

Story so far

Health Minister Edwin Poots announced he was to contact the Attorney General John Larkin over the Maureen McGinley case after meeting with the family.

In 2009 a joint inquiry was set up to investigate what happened following pressure from MLAs and the family, and a number of other investigations and reviews have been conducted since. To date, however, the family say they have no clear answers as to what happened. Different reports received by the family from whistleblowers at Altnagelvin Hospital allege boxes may have been placed on the body, or that Mrs McGinley fell off a trolley. None of these claims have ever been confirmed.

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