Grief for Cork families being ‘compounded’ by delays in inquests

Grief for Cork families being ‘compounded’ by delays in inquests

A Cork man whose brother died by suicide just days into his prison sentence said that inquest delays have robbed their family of closure and a chance to properly grieve.

LENGTHY waiting times for the hearing of inquests in Cork City are leaving bereaved families “stuck in limbo”.

Sinn Féin TDs Thomas Gould and Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire raised the issue in the Dáil after being contacted by families concerned about the length of time they have had to wait for an inquest into the death of a loved one.

Mr Gould said: “Unfortunately, in Cork these wait times are too long and are growing by the day. This is not the fault of the coroner or his staff, who are doing trojan work despite being under-resourced and understaffed. Cork Coroner deals with a quarter of the cases the Dublin City Coroner deals with and yet has only two staff members compared to Dublin’s 24.”

A Cork man whose brother died by suicide just days into his prison sentence said that inquest delays have robbed their family of closure and a chance to properly grieve.

Andrew Gearns died following a suicide attempt in Cork Prison in October of last year.

His brother Evan told The Echo last month of the effect that inquest delays are having on his family. He said: “As a family, we have no closure and there are still so many questions.”

Cork South Central TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire added: “When somebody dies in tragic circumstances, an inquest is part of the process of healing and grieving for the family. It is not reasonable to make families wait a year or more, particularly where there are unanswered questions and a great need for closure.

Cork TD Thomas Gould said: “Unfortunately, in Cork these wait times are too long and are growing by the day. This is not the fault of the coroner or his staff, who are doing trojan work despite being under-resourced and understaffed. Cork Coroner deals with a quarter of the cases the Dublin City Coroner deals with and yet has only two staff members compared to Dublin’s 24.”
Cork TD Thomas Gould said: “Unfortunately, in Cork these wait times are too long and are growing by the day. This is not the fault of the coroner or his staff, who are doing trojan work despite being under-resourced and understaffed. Cork Coroner deals with a quarter of the cases the Dublin City Coroner deals with and yet has only two staff members compared to Dublin’s 24.”

“Bereaved families deserve appropriate support and fair treatment, instead their trauma and grief are being compounded by what is a completely inadequate system,” he said.

“Cork dealing with a quarter of the cases of Dublin, but only having one twelfth of the staff, is scandalous.

Last month, Hildegarde Naughton, junior minister at the justice department, said the timing and conduct of inquests in any district is a matter entirely for the coroner concerned. She added that neither she nor her department have any function in this regard.

“Most coroners hold inquests in local court houses and, as a result of Covid-19 public health considerations, inquests have unfortunately been severely curtailed. My department is aware that the delay in holding inquests is causing distress for families, and officials from my department are liaising with the Courts Service on this matter.

“The Courts Service works closely with coroners across the country to facilitate inquests and continue to do so while ensuring adherence to public health guidelines.”

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