"New Coroners (Amendment) Bill 2017 to proceed as a priority" - Tánaiste

May 23rd

The Government today approved a proposal from the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, to draft as a matter of priority the Coroners (Amendment) Bill 2017.

The Bill will ensure that there would be mandatory reporting, post-mortem examination and inquest in cases of maternal death. 

It will also extend the legal aid provisions, introduced for certain inquests in the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013 to a family member of the deceased at the inquest in cases of maternal death. 

The Tánaiste said:

“This Bill introduce mandatory reporting, post-mortem examination and inquest in cases of maternal death.  It will ensure clarity for responsible persons, including hospital authorities and will support the development of transparent and accountable oversight for checking and investigating certain types of death. Most importantly, it will provide clarity and transparency for bereaved families,

“I also intend to bring forward a number of related provisions, already agreed under the Coroners Bill 2007, that will strengthen the effectiveness of the coroner’s inquest and improve compliance with our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.


“Subject to the advice of the Attorney General, I hope to be in a position to publish the Bill to the Oireachtas as soon as possible to allow debate to take place in this session.

“I also want to acknowledge the contribution of Deputy Clare Daly, through her Private Members Bill and I appreciate and share her concerns around these important issues.”


The Bill will provide for the following key complementary measures: 

ENDS

Note to Editors:

Coroners (Amendment) Bill 2017:
The key element of the Coroners (Amendment) Bill 2017 is to introduce mandatory reporting, post-mortem examination and inquest in cases of maternal death. The intention is to ensure that maternal deaths are fully investigated by way of a coronial inquest. These measures include providing for: 

A maternal death is defined under the Bill (in accordance with the internationally-recognised World Health Organisation definition (WHO-ICD 10) as the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days after the end of the pregnancy (by delivery, miscarriage or intervention, for instance in the case of ectopic pregnancy), from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management, but not from accidental or incidental causes. 

Such deaths are, medically, rare events, but due to their seriousness should be carefully monitored. (The Second Report on Ireland of the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Death (CEMD), published in Cork in February 2015, identified a total of 31 maternal deaths in Ireland over the period 2009 – 2012.)
 
Mandatory reporting of maternal deaths and of certain peri-natal and infant deaths was already included in the Coroners Bill 2007. 

A limited range of new provisions, also long intended and included in the Coroners Bill 2007, will strengthen the effectiveness of the coroner’s inquest and improve compliance with our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. These include: