570. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice if action will be taken to address the long delays in completing inquests at the Coroner’s Office in Cork city; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43982/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): Coroners are independent statutory officers. The timing and conduct of inquests in any district is a matter entirely for the coroner concerned. Neither I or my Department has any function in this regard.
Most coroners hold inquests in local court houses, and as a result of Covid-19 public health considerations, inquests have unfortunately been severely curtailed. My Department is aware that the delay in holding inquests is causing distress for families and officials from my Department are liaising with the Courts Service on this matter.
The Courts Service works closely with coroners across the country to facilitate inquests and continue to do so while ensuring adherence to Public Health guidelines.
With regard to the Courts Service more generally, the Government is committed to ensuring adequate resources for the courts in order to maintain access to justice for all citizens. The Courts Service received a €10 million increase in its capital budget last year, which has given flexibility for strategic infrastructural investment including in relation to ICT and accommodation. This commitment was reinforced with the highest ever budgetary allocation for the justice sector including €158.8 million for the Courts Service for 2021 including €8 million for the new Courts Modernisation Programme, and an additional provision of €5.7m for COVID measures to enable court sittings take place in a safe environment.