220. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice the reason a family (details supplied) have been told they must wait up to two years for a coroner's inquest into the death of a family member; if measures will be taken to address any backlog in coroners' inquests due to the added pressure to the system caused by the pandemic and alleviate the suffering of this and other bereaved families; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28481/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): Firstly, I would like to express my sympathies to the family concerned for their loss.
As the Deputy may be aware, coroners are independent in the conduct of their functions. Neither I nor my Department has any role in the directing of post-mortem examinations or inquests by a coroner, or for any subsequent action or decision taken.
As a result of Covid-19, given public health considerations, inquests have unfortunately been severely curtailed. I understand that some coroners, including the Dublin coroner, are holding what are referred to as ‘documentary inquests’ or remote inquests, which require very small numbers of attendees and take place with the agreement of families. Larger inquests, requiring multiple witnesses, are being rescheduled to a later date.
Specifically with regard to the situation in the Dublin coronial district, a second coroner and two new deputy coroners were appointed in February 2020. Furthermore, the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 provided, inter alia, for the assignment and appointment of temporary coroners to act simultaneously with other coroners in exceptional circumstances.
Additional information is available on the website www.coroners.ie or on the Dublin Coroner's website www.dublincoronerscourt.ie that may be of assistance.
The family of the deceased are advised to keep in contact with the Dublin Coroner’s Office, who will notify them when a date has been set for the inquest.