Leitrim TD says Coroners’ system requires urgent reform

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Deputy Martin Kenny

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice and Sligo/Leitrim TD, Martin Kenny, has welcomed the publication of a ‘damning’ report into the coroners’ system which makes 52 recommendations for reform of a system not fit for purpose.

Speaking following the launch of the study ‘Death Investigation, Coroners’ Inquests and the Rights of the Bereaved’ by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Teachta Kenny said: “This report is a damning indictment of the coronial system. It is clear that the system is not fit for purpose and is in need of urgent reform. Bereaved families deserve appropriate support and access to justice, instead this report warns that their trauma is being compounded by this inadequate system. 

The Sinn Féin TD said that many of the issues highlighted in this report were first brought up in the Department of Justice review 21 years ago.

"It is inexcusable that two decades later families are experiencing the same failings. I note with concern a number of alarming issues highlighted about perceived closeness between the gardaí and coroners and the implications for perceived bias," he added.

“I am also concerned by the issues the report raises around under-resourcing and lack of training. There is no standardised assessment of coroners and no adequate national system. At present there are 39 coroners’ districts and the operation of them varies widely. The right to know what caused the death and the circumstances of a loved one’s death should not depend on where in the state it takes place."

Deputy Kenny welcomed the report’s recommendation that legal aid should be provided to all families at inquests who request it.

"This is essential for full and fair access to justice and is a vital and topical issue for the long-suffering Stardust families who are still fighting for a proper inquest into their loved ones’ deaths," he said.

“The Justice Minister must take urgent steps to address the extensive issues highlighted in this report. There can be no excuses for further delays. Bereaved families are entitled to fair treatment and justice.

“I will continue to push this issue with the Minister to ensure that the recommendations of this report are implemented and that this state complies with adequate human rights standards on the question of inquests and the functioning of the coronial system.”

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