The Coroner for Mayo has warned that Coroners nationwide are facing a backlog of inquests due to Covid-19 restrictions, as well as the fact that additional court sitting are being facilitated outside of Dublin.
According to the Irish Times, half of the country’s 34 coroners are now under pressure to meet the demand of hearing inquests, due to many being postponed over the past nine months. This will result in dozens of inquests piling up well into next year.
The coroners’ primary function is to investigate sudden and unexplained deaths so that a certificate can be issued.
Mayo Coroner Pat O’Connor, spokesperson for the Coroner’s Society of Ireland said that inquests requiring juries and witnesses have not taken place since pandemic restrictions last March.
In addition, he says many inquests have been impacted by the court services moving cases normally held in Dublin around the country such as the Central Criminal Court sittings in Castlebar, Cork and Kilkenny .
Thankfully, he said, the coroner’s court in Mayo has been able to be facilitated in Ballina.
Mr O’Connor pointed out that while inquests do not have to be held in court settings, it is viewed by the society as “best practice”.