The country’s coroners have called for a review of their pay, as the number of cases they have dealt with has risen for a third consecutive year.
The Coroners’ Society of Ireland hosted Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan at its AGM where, it is understood, he said he would review the remuneration of coroners around the country.
Returns gathered by coroners show that, last year, 17,337 cases were completed, including 2,143 cases which resulted in an inquest.
The overall number of cases dealt with last year rose from 16,815 completed in 2016 and 16,756 in 2015.
Patrick O’Connor, who is the coroner for much of Mayo and the spokesman for the Coroners’ Society of Ireland, said that pay was on the agenda for its members, as remuneration had not been reviewed for at least two decades.
Mr O’Connor said the number of coroner districts has fallen considerably, due to the amalgamation of areas.
He said those amalgamations had been successful and that his personal view was that there was no need for more coroners, but he said that, given the workload in Dublin and Cork, there might be a case for deputy coroners in those areas.
However, he said that, given the increased workload and responsibilities, there was a need to review pay.
“We would encourage it,” Mr O’Connor said.
“We would canvas for it to be done.
“Coroners’ remuneration has not changed for more than 20 years. That is an issue. We would like to have remuneration reviewed.”
He added that, ideally, coroners would like this to be done within the next six months.
Coroners are paid a salary and a fee per item, with the latter fee based on whether a case was report-only, report and permitting post-mortem, or report/post-mortem and inquest.
They do not receive subsistence payments, or travel or other expenses.
Separately, coroners have spoken about the possibility of a central database, which would then categorise cases nationally, while members are also closely watching the progress through the Oireachtas of a bill relating to their work.
Mr O’Connor said that an earlier bill, back in 2007, envisaged more pronounced changes to how coroners worked, but that it never made it through to law.
The current Coroners’ Bill going through the Oireachtas does extend the powers of coroners, regarding pre and perinatal deaths.