'Inquiry into Savita Halappanavar's death to be finished by Christmas'

Meanwhile, Halappanavar's solicitor O'Donnell said he had taken instructions from his client to seek direction from the Ombudsman on whether he or Galway University Hospital owns her medical records.

Halappanavar has objected to the use of his wife's notes in a HSE inquiry into her death. He has said he has no faith in a HSE-run inquiry and does not want her notes used in it.

O'Donnell had asked that the hospital, where Halappanavar died last month, hand over the original medical notes. However, the HSE has said it owns them.

A spokesman for the Ombudsman has said it was unlikely the office would have a role in this dispute.

Earlier, Eamon Gilmore, the second most senior officer in the Irish government, warned about a tribunal-style inquiry, saying: "We have experience in this country of formal public inquiries and the danger is they go on for a very long time and very often spend a long time being mired in legal argument."

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has supported Halappanavar's call for a public inquiry .

The Health Information and Quality Authority will publish the terms of reference of its inquiry into her death next week.

The investigation, for which no time span is indicated, will make use of outside expertise, a spokesman indicated.

UN special rapporteur Margaret Sekeggya was in Ireland this week. Outlining that the preliminary findings from her visit she described Ireland's law on terminations as "one of the most restrictive in Europe".

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