Question to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr. Alan Shatter, TD)
To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if there has been any review of coroner services and the governance thereof; if not, if he will consider instigating such a review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer
For WRITTEN ANSWER on Tuesday, 16th April, 2013.
The recommendations made by the Coroners Review Group in 2000 provide the primary basis for the proposals contained in the Coroners Bill 2007 which is before the Seanad having been restored to the Order Paper on my initiative. The Bill also has regard to the Report of the Coroners Rules Committee in 2003.
The Bill is in the course of being reviewed in my Department with a view, among other matters, to making it as cost-effective as possible. The Bill, as published, provides for the comprehensive reform of the existing legislation and structures relating to coroners and provides for the establishment of a new Coroner Service. It also aims to fulfil the obligations placed on the State by the European Convention on Human Rights and, particularly, the Article 2 requirement in relation to the investigation of deaths of persons involving the State.
The key elements of the Bill include:
– enhancing inquiry and inquest processes;
– establishing the office of Chief Coroner to provide leadership and direction in all coronial matters;
– providing the necessary legal framework for the establishment of a new Coroner Service;
– moving to a smaller number of full-time coroners;
– statutory requirement to ensure that family members are notified at significant steps of the coronial process;
– clarifying a specific regime for coroner post-mortem examinations, including provision for retention and release of body parts and bodily samples, and
– promoting cooperation between coroners and other agencies also involved in investigations of deaths.
The Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 provides for some early reforms in coronial matters, including an amalgamation of the Dublin County and City coronial districts.