herald

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Mum died of salmonella after eating meal at pub to celebrate Communion

Sandra O'Brien died after contracting food poisoning at a First Communion function
Sandra O'Brien died after contracting food poisoning at a First Communion function

A Dublin woman who contracted food poisoning at a First Communion function died from salmonella, an inquest has heard.

Investigations into the outbreak are continuing, the inquest into the death of 55-year-old mother-of-one Sandra O'Brien was told yesterday.

Mrs O'Brien, of River Valley, Swords, Co Dublin, died on May 21, last year after eating a meal at the Golf Links Inn, in Strand Road, Portmarnock, Co Dublin.

Her husband Sergeant Michael O'Brien attended a short hearing at Dublin Coroner's Court as the inquest was opened.

Abnormal

Investigations by two separate authorities are ongoing into the salmonella outbreak, the court heard.

The Health Service Executive's environmental health office and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland are both preparing files on the incident, which will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) once investigations are complete.

"It's an investigation into the outbreak in relation to compliance with food safety legislation," Noel Donnelly, principal environmental health officer in Fingal, north Dublin, told the court.

"We are not investigating the death of a particular person."

The inquest heard that an autopsy was carried out by pathologist Avril Cullen and the cause of death was acute myocarditis as a consequence of salmonella infection with previous myocarditis as a contributory factor.

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle and can be caused by a viral infection or an immune response, reducing the heart's ability to pump and causing rapid or abnormal heart rhythms.

Members of the sloggers to joggers group and Gardai form a guard of honour at the funeral of Sandra O'Brien
Members of the sloggers to joggers group and Gardai form a guard of honour at the funeral of Sandra O'Brien

Following his wife's death, Mr O'Brien formally identified her body at Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown to Garda Kevin Barry.

After the incident the HSE said it had become aware of more than 50 people from a number of family groups supplied by the same catering company over the weekend of May 13 and 14 last year, who had fallen ill.

The company, Flanreil Food Services, which provided the food served at the First Communion function, was represented at the inquest by solicitor Elaine Byrne.

Inspector Oliver Woods applied for a six-month adjournment to allow investigations to continue.

Coroner Myra Cullinane adjourned the inquest until November 8.

"If there are any updates in the meantime we will inform you," Insp Woods told the court.

Dr Cullinane extended her condolences to Mr O'Brien.

Last May it emerged that health inspectors investigating the outbreak believed that people had become ill in 17 locations around north Dublin.

At least 50 people, including four children, were affected and a number of those were hospitalised.

Heartbroken

Speaking at the time, publican Gerry O'Dwyer said staff at the Golf Links Inn were still in shock following Ms O'Brien's tragic death.

"We're all absolutely devastated for the family of the poor lady who has died," he said.

"The restaurant staff, the bar staff, all of us are heartbroken for her and her family.

"We're still reeling from the awful news."

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