Sinn Fein justice spokesperson Martin Kenny has again called on government to move forward with a reform of the coroners court system. The deputy’s remarks come after Cork Coroner Philip Comyn apologised for miscommunications with a family awaiting an inquest, stating it was as a result of ‘gross understaffing’ in his office.
Speaking this evening, Deputy Kenny said, “It has been clear for some time now that the system underpinning the coroners courts in Ireland requires standardisation.
“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.
“A requirement for national standardisation was clear after the Dept of Justice coroners court review 20 years ago, however there has been very little in the way of reform since. Only a few months ago, I and other members of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice heard from stakeholders within the system, including families and legal representatives, about the difficulties within the system. These difficulties have been further highlighted today by the comments of the Cork coroner.
“Bereaved families deserve appropriate support and access to justice. However, due to these persistent issues in the system, the trauma families and loved once face is being compounded.
“I welcome the comments from Philip Comyn today as he has shed light on the issues facing the coronial service and it’s staff. Despite the best efforts of coroners and staff, families are being adversely affected by the shortcomings in an underfunded, and sometimes ad-hoc system.
“The Justice Minister must take urgent steps to address the issues highlighted repeatedly by families, their legal representatives, and now the coroners themselves. There can be no excuses for further delays.
“Bereaved families are entitled to fair treatment and justice.“