Part-time coroners paid in excess of €100k

Six coroners working on a part-time basis each earned more than €100,000 in State retainers and fees last year, new figures show.

Part-time coroners paid in excess of €100k

The figures released by the Dept of Justice in response to a Freedom of Information request showing that one of the highest earning part-time coroners was the coroner for Galway West, Ciaran MacLoughlin, who received €138,989 in fees in 2013.

Dr MacLoughlin oversaw the inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar.

He heard evidence at the inquest over seven days in April of last year in Galway. The vast majority of inquests that are heard in coroners’ courts take less than one hour.

The other part-time coroners to receive in excess of €100,000 last year were the Cork South and Cork West coroner, Frank O’Connell, who received €183,348; the Kildare coroner, Denis Cusack, who received €117,400; the Wexford coroner, Sean Nixon, who received €104,380; the Mayo South coroner, John O’Dwyer, who received €102,035 and the Louth coroner, Ronan Maguire, who received €102,389.

Mr O’Connell received 121,429 in relation to his work as coroner in Cork South and €61,919 for his role as coroner in Cork West.

A further eight coroners received fees between €75,000 and €100,000. The vast majority of coroners are either solicitors or doctors.

However, the best paid coroners in the country were the two full-time coroners: Brian Farrell in Dublin, who received €266,463 in salary and his colleague at Cork Co Borough, Myra Cullinane, who received €256,352.

A spokeswoman for Dublin City Council said yesterday that Dr Farrell’s salary was reduced from €290,125 by €23,662 to €266,463 with effect from July 1, 2013, in accordance with the Haddington Road agreement.

She said: “The Dublin District Coroner is a full-time coroner, including on-call 24/7, weekends and bank holidays. The coroner sits every day — Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays — hearing inquests and deals with all reportable deaths in the Dublin area.”

According to the Dept of Justice, coroners receive €523 for every death certified after a post-mortem and inquest; €188 for every death certified after a post mortem and a €129 for every death reported to them.

Last year, the State’s coroners oversaw 2,087 inquests — down marginally from the 2,123 held in 2012.

Coroners last year dealt with 16,182 cases made up of reports on deaths, post mortems and inquests.

The 2013 total represented a 779 or 20% increase on the 2012 total of 15,403 cases.

Spokesman for the Coroners’ Society of Ireland, Mayo East coroner, Patrick O’Connor, said yesterday that coroners’ earnings depend on the amount of work carried out.

He said: “There have been no increases in the fee per item in recent years and salaries have been reduced. The level of pay to coroners reflects the amount of work done and the size of area that a coroner covers.”

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