Report on how Ireland investigates deaths calls for families to have a central place in the process

Report on how Ireland investigates deaths calls for families to have a central place in the process

The report, Left Out in the Cold, is being published today by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and has been compiled by Professor Phil Scraton – a key figure in the Hillsborough investigation, and Gillian McNaul, both of Queen’s University Belfast.

A REPORT published today on how Ireland investigates deaths is calling for families to have a central place in the investigation process.

The report, Left Out in the Cold, is being published today by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and has been compiled by Professor Phil Scraton – a key figure in the Hillsborough investigation, and Gillian McNaul, both of Queen’s University Belfast. The report looks at the Coroner system currently in place in Ireland, highlighting that there is a designated Coroner’s Court only in Cork city and Dublin.

The report said: 

“Put families at the centre of the process. Consult with bereaved families and establish a Charter for the Bereaved which would clearly address their needs and rights. Redesign the website and information system with shocked and bereaved people in mind. Make legal aid and counselling available to the bereaved.” 

The report has identified 52 recommendations, under a number of umbrella categories.

In relation to families, the report recommends that there should be a consultation with bereaved families and a Charter for the Bereaved established which would clearly address their needs and rights. The authors also call for legal aid and counselling to be made available to the bereaved.

It also recommends the appointment of a Chief State Coroner and full-time Senior Coroners in each region; all Coroners should have legal training and experience as a legal professional, and counselling to be made available to all staff, and they should be trained in trauma-informed practice.

Other recommendations include:

  • Establish maximum acceptable time lapses at all stages, including for medical examinations, provision of information, and holding of inquests.
  • The needs of families should be anticipated and provided for.
  • Recommendations by juries should be followed-up. There should be follow-up procedures where systemic failings are identified.
  • Jury selection should be randomised.

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