Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (629, 688)

Patricia Ryan

Question:

629. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Justice if provision will be made to facilitate inquests relating to bodies uncovered at mother and baby institutions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6807/21]

View answer

Holly Cairns

Question:

688. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Justice the dialogue there has there been with the coroner whose jurisdiction includes Bessborough, Cork with respect to the holding of inquests for the deaths associated with the Bessborough Mother and Baby Home as provided for under the Coroners Act 1962; if there have been requests for inquests; if so, the number; the way in which they have they been responded to; if the coroner has informed her of conclusions they have reached under S1.7-F33 (1); if not, if she will seek their views; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7461/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 629 and 688 together.

Coroners are statutory officers exercising quasi-judicial functions, in relation to which they are completely independent. It is a matter for individual Coroners how to conduct any death investigation or inquest in accordance with their statutory functions. Individual families may wish to contact the relevant coroner for further details. All coroners’ contact details can be found on www.coroners.ie.

With regard to the Mother and Baby homes, this Government is committed to advancing legislation proposed by the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth – the Certain Institutional Burials (Authorised Interventions) Bill. The legislation will provide for the establishment of a dedicated Agency to undertake a forensic standard excavation of the site, exhumation and, where possible, identification of the remains, and provide for their respectful reinterment.

This legislation will support intervention at any site where intervention is reasonably required and will effectively displace the relevant statutory and independent roles of both the Gardaí and the Coroner in this particular regard. In particular, the Bill will disapply the exhumation process in section 47 of the Coroners Act 1962.

I have assured the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth of the full cooperation of my Department and its Agencies in implementing the actions set out in the legislation.