278. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will consider setting up a service to facilitate families in which a death must be the subject of an inquest; if funding will be provided to support families in terms of possible legal costs and the representation that may be required at these inquests (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25566/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The operation of the coronial system is governed under legislation by the Coroners Act 1962, as amended. The conduct of a death investigation and any subsequent inquest is a matter for the coroner concerned.
Section 60 of the Act provides that a family member may, prior to the commencement of an inquest, make an application to the Coroner for legal aid and legal advice. The Coroner will then determine whether an application should be granted and will notify the applicant of his or her decision within 10 working days. As the Coroner is independent in the conduct of their functions, neither my Department nor I have any role in the granting of such an application.
I am informed that, since September 2015, a total of 38 applications for legal aid have been made. Of these, 33 were granted, 2 were not followed up by the applicant and 3 are going through the assessment process. I am not aware that any applications have been refused.