Swift action needed to save vulnerable lives
The recent deaths of three very young children at the Royal Maternity's neo-natal unit is an immense tragedy for the parents, and everyone inside and outside the hospital will feel deeply for them in their bereavement.
The loss of the three tiny babies is also a tragedy for those whose medical and nursing expertise lies in the care and protection of young children.
Health Minister Edwin Poots has rightly described it as a "serious incident". He has asked the Belfast Health Trust to work with the Public Health Agency to make sure that everything is done as swiftly as possible to identify the source of the infection so that it can be contained to prevent any further risks.
It may not be easy to find out what happened, given the complexity of all the factors which caused the deadly infection called pseudomonas to appear, but it is of paramount importance that the inquiry should proceed swiftly, and that there will be no blame game and no hiding place created for facts about which the public has a right to know.
It is also important to protect the health of the other vulnerable babies in the unit. Every effort must be made to make sure that the proper procedures are taken as quickly as possible. If this means moving the babies to other units outside Northern Ireland, so be it. The welfare of these vulnerable children is a priority.
This is also a difficult time for the parents of the children in the unit who are waiting for the results of tests. It is worrying enough that their children have needed the care and protection of the neo-natal unit in the first place, but it is an extra stress to know that a deadly disease has already taken three young lives there.
This continues to be a difficult time for everyone, and the utmost determination is needed to find out the cause of the tragedy and to ensure that everything humanly possible is being done to prevent similar tragedies in the future.