I wish to state once again my Department's sincere regret at the circumstances which led to a person being buried without her friends being informed. It is clear that there was a breakdown in communication in this particular case, which the Department very much regrets.
Where a person dies while they are being provided with accommodation by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department, RIA works closely with the centre manager to assist the family in accessing the supports by the State, and to ensure that any residents affected by the death are assisted in accessing services that can support them. All deaths and serious incidents that occur within accommodation centres provided by the Department are referred to the Gardaí as a matter of course and the Gardaí in turn refer all deaths to the local coroner's office.
In light of what happened in this particular case, RIA is examining its protocols around fatalities in order to ensure that this situation does not arise again, and in particular to ensure there is a formal record of the interest of the Department in knowing any proposed arrangements for inquest or burial.
In an effort to better understand the communications between all parties concerned, a senior official from the Department of Justice and Equality spoke to the Galway West coroner on the 7 June 2019. I should say that the coroner noted the efforts that had been made to identify the person's next of kin.
While thankfully, the occurrences of deaths where the deceased remains unidentified, unclaimed or where no next of kin is identified, are very rare, the Department will take all possible steps to ensure that this outcome is avoided in future and that friends who have expressed an interest are properly informed through appropriate communications with the coronial service and by liaising with other relevant agencies.